Harvest Time

Two people close to me lost one each of their parents over the recent Season of Good Cheer. This was not the first time death has pounded his beat in my immediate vicinity, but it has been a while. The last time he got close – closer, even – was back in 1994, when I was 35, and my father passed away (unless we count the time in 2007 when a doctor assured me, wrongly, that I had lung cancer, but that was hardly death's fault). Before 1994, death took my last grandparent away when I was in my mid-twenties and not long after, a dose of undiluted heroin put an end to the short life of a good friend. But when young, it would seem, you can shrug death off almost as soon as the grieving ceases. Later in life, it gets harder to take that scythe on the chin any more. By then, you are far enough over the hill to have a clear view of what lies on the other side, and even though the downward slope is still green and fairly pretty-looking, the hooded figure killing time at the very bottom simply cannot be ignored. Last week, one of the two people who had lost a parent at Christmas - my oldest friend Max – and I, discovered we'd both just begun to take stock of our lives: to look back. As it turned out, the only regrets we had concerned our non-private lives: Max hadn't yet scripted a full-length film and I hadn't yet published a full-length novel in English: two ambitions mutually confessed some three decades ago. I told Max I'd often imagined that at the end of a natural life people maybe feel something akin to the melancholy children often experience at the close of a longish summer holiday: endless though it had seemed at the start, suddenly they realise they won't be able to do all the many, many things they thought they had so much time to squeeze in. Having said which, Max and I determined to go on determinedly chasing our particular ambitions, come what may. Right up to the last gleamings, as it were, of our respective summers. And to hell with the harvest.

Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, febrer de 2011

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