That Good Night

My grandfather, Ned Fritz, died early this morning. He was 92 and he went peacefully in his sleep. In his blog he wrote regularly about becoming old and being prepared for death, but he also wrote about enjoying life even as he weakened. In his memory I want to quote something moving and profound that he wrote two years ago, an essay titled “Old Age Is Worth Living To.”

About five percent of Americans live to age 96 or longer. Many of those feel good. I have lived three months past age 90, and I usually feel good, although I no longer can be much help to the world, as I used to be.

At old age, most people spend time enjoying life. As my memory weakens, I no longer perform much, but I deeply enjoy life. My wife, Genie, and my three daughters help me a lot, with food, walks, talks, and gifts. I usually feel good. Many other people say and do nice things for me.

My wife still takes me to beautiful places, like wild areas, musical events, monthly and annual meetings. My wife also fills my outside bird feeders. So I can enjoy seeing many species, like red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, goldfinches, and even house sparrows. Nearby are many more species, including cardinals, mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-throated sparrows.

We have over twenty kinds of wild trees, including Green ash, Gum bumelia, Eastern red cedar, Black cherry, Eastern Cottonwood, Box Elder, American Elm, Cedar Elm, Common Fig, Pyracantha, Sweet gum, Common Hackberry, American holly, Honey Locust, Mesquite, Southern Red Oak, Bur Oak, Live Oak, Osage Orange, Pecan, Mexican Plum, Texas redbud, Flame-leaf sumac, Common Sycamore, and Texas Hercules Club. Occasionally a red-tailed hawk from our deep back yard comes looking for a bird to eat, but I never see it catch one.

At old age, most people like me, cannot lead a battle to maintain human population and peace. Most old people can merely support younger officials who lead a big movement to stop over-population and war. The trouble is that few people in positions of power actually lead a powerful effort to end the growth of population or to prevent the beginning of another war. Therefore, we old people can mainly be nice to others and enjoy the remaining days or years of life.

Life began as cells 3 ½ billion years ago and gradually spread out from one species to another. There is no evidence of any species living after death. Therefore, each human should enjoy life, itself. Long before our Earth formed, our Universe spread out 14 billion years ago, long after material existed, which may have been forever. On that basis, I think human lives are a result of amazing development. We can enjoy life deeply into old age and on almost to death. No human should weaken true enjoyment by physically attacking another human. A human may argue with another human with the purpose of keeping both lives enjoyable.

When approaching death, a person should overcome huge pain by mental concentration or medicine and enjoy the remainder of life. This can be done by listening to music, relatives, friends, reading, and other actions. Life can be pleasant to the end, or about to the end. Enjoy yourself. Be nice to others.

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