By Raoul Suarez

A letter from my senior – Abraham V. Llera.

Dear, Abyan Raoul,

I hope this finds you well. We had hearty discussions about a lot of things and you have always wondered what it was like to be in my shoes. Let me tell you a few things before I forget.

After 57 years of trying, I am now the person I have always wanted to be.

To be sure, I have not become the Roman Abramovich I’ve always dreamed of becoming, or the Brad Pitt that once I fancied myself to be, but I have come to realize that one could be very rich without being wealthy, or sought after without becoming a star.

I have my wife of 26 years– God’s most precious gift without whom I couldn’t cope, and she, alone, is more than enough.  I have my children, which makes be blessed beyond anything I could imagine.  I have my health.  And what remains of my hair. Or my teeth.

Yes, my body sucks.  I wake up every morning feeling like a steamroller had been placed on top of me. I like to jump out of bed, impatient and wanting to hit the ground running.  But aching joints from still-slumbering muscles prevent me.

And when I look in the mirror — could that puffed up guy with the horrible lines and sagging jowls be really me? Invariably, however, I’d notice how sexy my graying (although thinning) hair had become.

It’s tempting, but I would never trade my family, friends, my health for a chance to do it all over again, but differently.  I’d probably be driving a Lamborghini Gallardo, but what’s even ten of those if I have a listless life?  As I’ve aged, I’ve become a connoisseur of value, and there’s nothing more precious than family, health, and friends.  (God comes first, of course.)

I don’t hate myself   for wanting to have at least two eggs for breakfast, or for often forgetting things, or for buying those turn blocks that make our clothesline taut like no one else’s (but which my wife considers an unnecessary expense).  I am entitled to indulge in my favorite food once in a while, to be exacting with cleanliness in the house, to be extravagant with small things like turn blocks.

I can only count myself blessed– I have seen far too many dear friends leave the world before they even had the privilege of being called “old.”  Perhaps that’s why I always take the senior citizens lane at the supermarket, and feel pleased when counter girls fail to notice my lack of qualification.

Whose business is it if I take longer time to marvel at morning glories?  Or paint my house yellow? Or have numerous Facebook and Twitter accounts?  Whose concern is it if I have six blogs?

I will croon to my heart’s desire to those wonderful tunes of Nat King Cole or Simon and Garfunkel, and if I, at the same time, feel like belting out Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses,” or Hearts’ “Alone,” I will.

I will continue to adore my wife and dote on our children, and will always want my son and daughters with me even if they’re already adults.  That, despite the snickers of others. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful.  But then would growing old be growing old if one always remembers everything?  And you know what?  I always remember the important things like my wife’s birthday, or our wedding anniversary, or the names of our daughters’ friends.

Sure, I’ve had my share of grief.  How can one not weep at the loss of a loved one, or when bills get due and payday is still two weeks away, or when even one’s own son thinks his dad is the worst thing that has ever happened to him? But from broken hearts come wisdom, and from every humbling experience, strength. A man that has never been down has not truly lived.

I thank God to have been allowed to see my hair turn gray, and my teeth fall.  So many have never been as privileged.  As one gets older, it is easier to be positive. One spends less time worrying about what other people think.

So, do I like getting old?  Yes, my brother. I love growing old. I’m getting old, and loving every minute of it!

It has set me free.

Yours truly,
Abyan Abe