A 93-year old's Valentine

Roger Angell, long a staple at the New Yorker, appears in the anniversary issue under the title "This Old Man."   Lightly noting the drawbacks of aging, he celebrates his happy existence:

"I've endured a few knocks but missed worse. I know how lucky i am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. The pains and insults  are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I've learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back  a warning, I'll pause meaningfully, duh, and something else comes to mind."

He reports an active social and intellectual life as well as the ability to summon both the recent dead and those long gone--a testament to his good memory.

A remarkably cheerful and insightful essay by the man who used to write the New Yorker's annual Christmas letter (rhymed with perfect meter). Alas, they have become very stingy on that score as well as putting their on-line edition behind a series of check points--even for print subscribers. In case you can't get there, a visit to the dentist's office will certainly turn up the issue (February 17 and 24, 2014).

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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