They come daily
When the weather permits
Day after day the old men come
They sit in the plaza
On hard metal chairs and park benches
They bask in the sun
They watch the fat pigeons frolic
They watch children run and play
When there is live entertainment
They enjoy it
Sometimes they sit alone
Sometimes they gather
The old men talk
They talk of life and death
Joy and sorrow
Love and hate
Wives and former wives
Their children and grandchildren
They talk of their afflictions
and the afflictions of the others
Their hair is gray
Their faces weathered
Their hands gnarled
They are men who
Some move slowly
Walking with measured steps
Sometimes they will bring cans of beer
Sipping it in the heat of late afternoon
The plaza is like some in Europe
Where people gather
People meet people
The old men live alone
They are not lonely
They have each other
They are old
Older than I
I am not like them and like them
When the weather permits
The old men come to the plaza
We sip beer in the heat
Snow is falling on and off today. It is just flurries, but still snow. It appears we had a false spring opening. When we had a respite from winter, I was in the plaza near my home. It is a pleasant open space where people come to congregate or socialize. On nice days there is live entertainment.
There are park benches and some metal chairs one of the regulars found and donated them to the place. There is a group of three to five regulars, elderly men, who show up daily. They sit alone, basking in the sun or in a group, talking or arguing over one issue or another. Sometimes one brings a to listen to music or the news.
They are there, day after day, leaving before evening falls to walk home. The men are retired or on disability. One gets crazy as a loon sometimes. He no longer comes around. I go to the plaza daily, weather permitting. I drink my coffee, work the crosswords, or hijack the guest WIFI of an adjoining restaurant to write or surf the web. I got to know the old men.
There are people like these all over this city. They sit in open spaces, sometimes congregating, sometimes alone. You also see them in the saloons, what the youngsters call old men bars- whatever that means. They will sit, nursing a beer, watching sports, whiling away time. Time is all most of them have.
They all have stories to tell once you get to know them. A few are not what they seem. They lived full lives. They are content. They just want to be around others or bask alone, outdoors, when the weather permits.
I ran into one last week when the weather teased us with warmth and sunshine. We were glad to see each other. We had a brief conversation about the others before he trudged home.