August 18, 2014

Judith Viorst, "Unexpectedly Eighty"

I had planned to share some thoughts about Robin Williams' suicide and the role his Parkinson's diagnosis may have played in it. But I soon realized the issues were too complex, and that I needed more time to sort things out.

So I turned to my queue of posts. Here's one of my favorite's.

Judith Viorst has lived in Washington since 1960. An amazingly prolific author, she's written science fiction books, picture and poetry books for children, adult fiction and nonfiction (including the best seller Necessary Losses) and three musicals.

She has also written best-selling books of  poetry for adults. First came Suddenly Sixty, followed by I'm Too Young To Be Seventy. Now we have Unexpectedly Eighty. Here are a few samples of her wise and witty poems:

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When I awoke this morning
The world was radiant with newness.
Indoors and outdoors, all had been scrubbed clean.
The sky had achieved a blue it seemed beyond blueness.
Whites were whiter than white, greens greener than green.
And the edges of everything,
Tree trunks
Blades of grass,
Stood apart from the edges of everything else
With exquisite clarity.

How can I explain this? Revelation?
No – – successful cataract operation.

#  #  #  #  #  #  #

Here at the Restaurant
Here at the restaurant,
After we three pairs of old, old friends
Have arranged ourselves to accommodate
A second back surgery, a recent bypass, a Parkinson’s, and several hearing aids,
And after the one who can’t see without her trifocals
Listens while her husband reads her the menu,
And after we have waved away the breadbasket,
And ordered our careful dinners of lean meat or fish with the sauce on the side, no potatoes, just vegetables,
And before we start discussing
Personal trainer versus going to the gym,
Retirement home versus putting in an elevator,
And does anyone know a good gastroenterologist?
And is anyone else having trouble with their feet?
And should we be doing something with probiotics?
And can we really trust those generic drugs?
And is this normal forgetting or is it Al, Alz – – what do they call that disease?
And just as we begin to clink our wine glasses,
Some of which hold sparkling water, not wine,
We smile at one another and make a toast that once seemed boring, but not anymore:
To health
To health
To health
To health
To health.

#  #  #  #  #  #  #

What to Talk About
You’ll find no even-tempered conversation
On matters like a misbehaving priest.
There is screaming over drug legislation.
There is snarling over peace in the Mideast.
Insist on global warming and there is tension.
Defend health-care reform and cast a pall.
On almost any subject you can mention
You’ll stir up an unseemly free for all.

But there is one question that unites the pack:
Does anybody here have a bad back?

The world's your friend when speaking of the spine.
Civility is never put at risk.
So don’t bring up intelligent design.
Stay focused on the herniated disc.
And though solutions vary:
Surgery or exercises?
A chiropractor or an orthopod?
There is animation rather than attack.

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