My 82nd Birthday
……….“Make a wish,” Marta said.
……….I had just blown out the lone candle, my 82nd birthday rearing its ugly head yet one more time. Thought I’d be dead come my 72nd birthday. Never even pondered that I’d make it to 82—and most of my facilities still in tact. Have to get up twice a night to pee—well, who doesn’t at this age—at least my plumbing is still working, right? One day you are 22 and you have your health and you meet the love of your life and you have a job you love as an assistant editor for a textbook publishing company and all of a sudden you are 32 with four children, all healthy thank the good Lord, but you are saddled with debt because of the mortgage and food and the kids need clothes and you need to buy them the first edition of the new Harry Potter book and then when cancer strikes the love of your life and the medical bills pile up and then you are 42 and your wife is dead and your children had to practically raise themselves because you were too mired in your own grief, never once stopping to think about your kids’ grief and then they slink off to college or get pregnant or travel or get married and your once noise-filled house becomes a you-can-hear-a-pin-drop library and you are 52 and all alone and your children hardly call or visit and your life has become a Harry Chapin song and then you get cancer you think, well I’ve had a pretty good run, at least I’ll be with my beloved in the afterlife, only you survive cancer because you are a tougher son-of-a-bitch than you realize and your kids start to have kids but you don’t know about it because they’ve cut you out of their life so you dig into work and when you are about to reach the pinnacle of becoming editor-in-chief, they give you some mumbo jumbo about downsizing and early retirement and you take the package, it will be good for you, you can write that book that you’ve always talked about so you take the package and retire and all of a sudden you are 62 and have no one in your life because it turns out you are cold and callous and maybe the world would be better off without you so you decide to exit this world, no note, no muss, no fuss, but you screw up, and one of the social workers at the hospital takes a liking to you and three months after you leave the hospital you ask her to marry you and she says yes and the next ten years are filled with wonder as you travel the world and create memories and she tries to reach out to your children but her cards and emails go unanswered and you resign yourself to letting go of that part of your life and you turn 72 and something deep stirs in you and you finally, after all of these years, actually put your behind in a chair and start to write the novel that you’ve mentally crafted in your head hundreds of times over the decades.
……….And then the writing stops, dead, cold. The pen works but the ink won’t flow. The words don’t make sense anymore. You think maybe it’s writer’s block or a stroke or Alzheimer’s so you got to the doctor and he says for a 72-year old, you could be Jack Lalane’s brother and maybe you should get out more or start a new hobby and that I’m sure you are just having a temporary brain freeze with writing, it happens to all writers at some point. So I thank him and think he’s a doctor not a writer but maybe he knows what he’s talking about so I walk more and take up book binding, which is surprisingly cathartic, and one day I fall and break my hip and the surgery is a bitch and the recovery is a pain and I’m almost about back to normal so I think I’ll take a stab at writing again and I’m at the midpoint between 72 and 82 and my betrothed takes ill and six weeks later she’s gone and I’m all alone again, so I sit in misery as the days pass and I refuse to sell my house and live in one of those depressing, soul-sucking, urine-infested nursing homes so I get a nurse to visit me daily to help with my bodily functions and my pills and the cooking and she’s fine and all but I just wish I would die a natural death already, although now I’m worried that I’m going to have two wives in heaven and how in the heck is that all going to play itself out?
……….So here I am, today, on my 82nd birthday without either of my wives or my kids or my grandkids and Marta is telling me to make a wish and I don’t know if I should wish for me to die or finish my book or that one of my daughters will knock on the door or that I hope to meet one of my grandkids, and then it comes to me, the thing that I know may be within the realm of make a wish possibilities, so I wish for it and blow out my candles and Marta asks me what I wished for and even though I know it’s supposed to be bad luck if you tell someone your wish, I tell her anyway and my wish is that I hope I can go an entire night without having to take a piss.
© Glenn H. Myers
Glenn H. Myers spends his days penning corporate memos; by night, he crafts fiction. His non-fiction work has been published in The Boston Globe. He spends his weekends seeking a literary agent for his first novel, The French Fry Diet.