I’m having a hard time imagining what that toast might consist of. I sit here in this fancy contraption that you all bought for my 85th, a chair so padded and engineered and ergonomic that I could sit here all day, sleep here all night and dream away the rest of my life. It was really a thoughtful present. I’m comfortable here, slowly curling up into myself, becoming more embryonic every day. Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and find that I’ve sprouted a small, translucent tail, with which I can glide my way once and for all into the deep and shady part of the pond.
But that’s not what you want to hear me saying, I know. Maddie, beloved and honest great-granddaughter, asked me the other day why I have so many whiskers in my ear, like a cat. I told her that, when you get to be as old as I am, you can choose any animal in the world to turn into. Instantly, her eyes lit up and she said, “Really? Is that really true? Oh, then I will become a grizzly bear with great, grand teeth and paws the size of baseball mitts.” I thought to myself, that might actually be something worth hanging around to see.
See, here’s the thing. Your birthday cakes and candles, the tiny ones you bring to cheer up great-grandpa, the photos you magically send to that device on my credenza — all of these only serve to tether me to the loud and living world, when what I really want is to slip away quietly, leave the warmth and the laughter behind, and ease my way into the starry night, to head home unnoticed.