There was this old man at church who came in alone, limping his way through the pews, his weight was mostly on the black cane his right hand clasped on. I’ve seen this man many times on the 5:00 PM mass but he was never alone. He always came with his wife, a tall woman who seemed younger and stronger than he. She walked in with him and was his cane in the occasions I’ve seen them together. Not this afternoon. I was panicked for a while, was bitten by immense and sudden sadness just by the sight of this one man without his wife. My mind had wandered off on the possibilities of his singular attendance to church. Could his wife have died? Did she leave him? Did she fall sick unable to leave the house? Then I thought about how sad it would be to grow old alone; to be without anybody to go through the ups and downs of life with. But wouldn’t it be worse to be with someone who only stays due to convenience, due to custom, due to necessity, or due to getting used to it? Perhaps more than the romantic aspect of this scenario, the very core of my sadness stems from the truth that we will all grow old and weak whether we’re with a companion, a life partner, a husband, a wife or not. We are all going to get old. We won’t be able to move as fast as we want to. We won’t be able to hear as loud as we have always heard. We won’t be able to recall names, numbers, dates and even people per se. We won’t be as strong as our hearts and spirits are potent. We will get old. We will be limping our way through pews, streets, nursing homes and the world entirely. My wish is that before I grow too old to remember a thing and move an inch, I get to live life full. That I have all these stories and memories and feelings and even words to get lost in once dementia catches up on me. That I don’t make people sad. That I make them feel that I have kicked life in the butt and that I have been cradled in its belly for many wonderful and fruitful years. That my ages and phases and changes were not spent in vain. That I have truly lived for myself and the ones I love so dearly. That no matter how I limp when I’m eighty, I would still feel proud of the person who tried and is still trying to go places. That I never quit finding beauty and joy and hope in living. I wanna be that old man, still determined to keep up with life, with or without a partner by his side. Anyway, I’ve gotten so far with my thoughts again. A few minutes into my wander off experience, the church bell rang to signal the beginning of the mass. And the altar boys and girls, the old man’s wife, and the priest, made their procession towards the altar. An hour later the old man was exiting the pews, cane on his left hand, and his beloved wife on his right. Happiest ending to a mass, me thinks.

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