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A poet at 92.

The following account was pieced together from Ed's letters to The American Dissident. Out of sincere interest, the editor asked Ed to describe what it was like being 92 and what he did with his time.

Just a note to tell you that I am still around, but dying slowly, as everyone has to. I feel that I have just about lived long enough anyway--92 is more than lots of people get. My own health, what there is of it, is touch and go. I touch ... you go. Hahahahahahaha. At night I piss at least five times into one of those underwear kind of things, otherwise I would be flooded out of my bed. I piss long and hard. I take off the goddamned thing and throw them in a hamper. The damn hamper is full of these things, loaded with my piss. For some reason I just can't stop during the night, and so I just let it go. What else can I do? It disturbs my sleep, and I am glad to get up. The rest of the day consists of putting on my pants, etc., and sometimes I skip the damn underwear during the day, and piss outside if I have to. I hate wearing them. Usually during the day, it does not happen too much. Enough of that, eh!

I use a walker, and sometimes the back of a kitchen chair, to reach the stove, where I make my coffee and something to eat, like cereal. My kitchen table is full of poetry books, a lot of my own poems are in them. I keep reading them over and over again, some damn good ones in the bunch. There is also a lot of pain killers and medicine like tylenol to stop the pain, etc., which I swallow slowly, one at a time. My eyes are also bad, so I take eye drops. Hey, what else is new, eh? Do we all die in various ways? Of course we do. I always feel like I am getting a reprieve when I live another day. This is one old tough jew, I tell myself, nothing is gonna kill me. What a fuckin lie. Everyone dies. I just hate when I know this. And I keep wondering which way will I go? What's the use? Unless we get killed by nature or accident, we go when the body wears itself thin and useless. There is some purpose in how we exist. After all, there are times when I don't even want to get up in the morning. My body has lost ten pounds. I am a small man now who weighs 140 pounds and probably will lose more weight as I continue my dying. My father and mother were orthodox, and came from Russia. They had their share of brutality.

Back to my own journey in death. In mornings when it rains I am a kind of prisoner in my own house. I sit and look out the window and write my poems. There are lots of poems to write, and I don't think I will ever write enough of them. Somehow I like the rain and being alone. I get to talk to myself all day, and the house is lonely. What the hell ... I sleep downstairs and live downstairs. Climbing steps is murder, so I have a chair that moves up and down to the second landing, if I want to take a shower. I don't do it very often. I am content to wash myself downstairs at the kitchen sink. It's no big deal to run a cloth with warm water over my thin body that almost looks like I am in a death camp. I wash myself all over, my ass, and my genitals, and my chest. I use a soft towel, and dry off the rain. When it comes, it's often hard, and the sky becomes dark as hell. I turn on tv.

So what is death all about anyway? After a while I turn off the tv and think of something to write about, like I am doing now at eight in the morning. I sit here, naked to the skin, writing this meaningless essay which may never be read by others, but I don't care. The main aim is to write the poems ... get them down on paper. That's what counts--to let others know somehow that this world is a dangerous place to live when so many nations try to live together under one roof. My fingers skim the keys and my words appear--who am I to write anything at all? The problem is I believe by writing poems my own death will be delayed another year--foolish. Yes. But it's more than that. I want to wring the soul of the world dry, I want the tears to come, and then I want the day of peace to come.

So my fingers clatter, and my mind takes off. I usually tear up half of what I write--morning poems are usually meant to be destroyed. But I let them hang around for some time, just to see if maybe the poem has something that one can understand. When famous people die, the world knows about it, but when a poor poet dies, like dave church, or others, who write poetry because they have to, nobody in the whole world knows or even cares. That's how it goes. So Michael Jackson is gone. We grieve, and some love him too much. But he is only one who dies. More is to come. I think of myself. The way I struggled on the lower east side as a kid; the tenement house I lived in; the way my mother and father struggled in poverty. But that is the way life is.

The phone rings. I answer it. My grown up son, who is 66 years old says hello. He has a wife, and is doing well, and he doesn't forget his old man. He comes over sometimes, and with the help of a walker, I can go out the door. I look for those days when the weather is nice and go outside. Once out in the open, I breath the air of freedom. When the air is sweet, I want nothing more than to live forever--life is wonderful, everything is so wonderful. Taking a ride is a blessing. I am fortunate enough to still drive my old car at 92. Once in my car, I have no fear. My walker is in the back of the car, so I can use it if I want to go out of the car. I eat in diners and try to get the fresh air and meet people. It is the only way we can live--to be with others.

A lonely hermit existence is hard. If I should get a heart attack, I think, while I am home, there is a necklace around my neck, which I can push. Somewhere, someone will come to my aid. I remember the slogan: help, I fell and I can't get up--an old lady laying on the bottom of the steps, looking for someone to help her. The therapist I have comes every so often to give me exercise. What kind of exercise can an old man do? Move your arms from side to side, your legs ... kick them and keep your muscles moving. A few like this, and I am exhausted. I want to do anything but exercise. I have a younger man who comes around to change the ribbon on my ibm typewriter. My eyes cannot see the slots, and he is an old repair guy when only typewriters were around, and no computers. I don't like computers and still write on this typewriter. Good enough for someone about to die, who is writing an essay which will go no where. But it feels good to sit here and write this. Mike, my ribbon friend, has been though the mill himself. He is Jewish, and has lots of stuff to tell me. He once had an accident and had both legs broken, yet today he drives, and does well. We sit and talk together a bit while he fiddles with the ribbon. We talk about life and we talk about death, and we laugh a bit about how we all die, and there isn't much joy in the world. Mike is a good guy. He leaves, and i am alone again.

In my room downstairs are all my writings, books, and newspapers, and many Pave my work in them. I am always amazed that someone like myself with only a high school education can be published. They overflow and fall on the floor to show what I have done for more than seventy years of writing, and to do the whole damn bit, the whole schmear, is not bad. The day gets older, and i eat my lunch. Sometimes I will lie on the sofa and simply sit there and let the juices flow a bit. I feel my arms, my legs, my entire body is just one outmoded and outworn mechanism. Yet I still smile if I can--writing mostly during the morning hours, waiting for mail and rejections in late hours. Without my walker, I realize I can't move around good. And the incontinence day and night is merely the testing ground for how much I can take before I die. There will never be enough time to read all the books, see all the plays, and do everything we want.

There are people who come around to help me. I do not do it all by myself-- whatever help the government gives me is gratefully accepted. I have one black lady who makes my bed, goes shopping for me, and puts in three hours in my behalf. When she isn't working, we sit and chat about her own life, and husband and kids. She is in her thirties--a wonderful lady named Audrey. Sometimes we sit and watch tv together. We listen to Michael Jackson tributes. I tell her how sorry I am. She does my kitchen. Keeps everything neat and clean. Empties the trash. And so, the time when she comes are good ones. the poems keep coming and I keep writing, but the time is getting shorter. Life is an adventure. It ain't over yet.
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Title Annotation:Notes from the Golden Years
Author:Galing, Ed
Publication:The American Dissident
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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