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The Old Men

Image: PV Bella

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

They gossip

Their hair is gray

Their faces weathered

Their hands gnarled

They are men who

Worked hard

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

People talk

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 sit

We talk

We sip beer in the heat

Image: PV Bella

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.

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