I am certain that, in many ways, I knew the old man better than he knew himself, certainly better than anyone else knew him. The old man had some regrets as summer neared its end, but not many. He knew he would soon travel the same path taken by the old men before him, and that was alright.
The old man fully understood he could not welcome another winter, and that didn’t really matter. Winters were for the young of body and spirit whose perpetual optimism looked forward to the next year, and summers were for old men whose hopefulness had long since withered away.
The old man expressed his love of life in modest tones. He wasn’t known for uncontrolled outbursts of laughter, but rather for having a temperate personality with a dry sense of humor. His emotions rarely climbed to the highs or sank to the lows that others seemed to make evident.
There came a day, a moment, an instant when the old man seemed to have what could best be called an epiphany. He somehow knew that precise moment in time was the singular final second affirming the end of summer. At first he felt a slight sense of sadness but that emotion quickly passed and the sensation one gets that surges up inside when tasks are completed and great things have been accomplished replaced that sadness.
When summer’s bright hot sun began to lose its intensity the old man found that the once tall and straight shadow he cast became short and crooked. The leaves on the trees began to lose their fight with gravity and after turning from green to brown started to fall to the ground. The long summer days of sunlight began to grow shorter and soon the dark cold nights would dominate the world.
The old man’s memory brought up surprisingly detailed recollections of his life. He recalled his successful business career that spanned more than forty years. He had been well respected by his peers and he made close relationships with people that remained strong even until that day. He had a strong sense of pride for the things he accomplished throughout his career.
He lovingly recalled his wife and children. He was so proud of his children and the people they became. Warm thoughts caressed his memory as he remembered the kindness and love shown to him by his wife. Many of the moments spent with his wife and children rushed through his mind while he smiled, and then wiped away a tear.
The old man thought about the wonder of everything he saw, heard and smelled over the years. He recalled the smell of the ocean and the sound the waves made as they touched the sandy beach. He remembered his amazement at the splendor of great mountains and how the view of their peaks changed the sky. He recalled the calmness he felt as he stared into the night sky and wondered about his place in the infinite expanse of the universe.
As summer comes to an end so does the time of growth and life. The quintessential essence of everything the old man had once been was waning simultaneously with the end of the season. Some living things adapt to the changes ahead, and some just fade away, leaving only the memory of their presence. The old man knew he no longer had the strength and desire he once possessed and, at least for him, it was the end of summer, and he was content.