The Final Answer

Restlessly, an excited child lies sleeplessly in his soft bed.
Christmas beckons in the morn, and with it the promise of
Wondrous new baubles, a bright red fire engine, a set of Legos.
What wonders will Santa bring?
Have I been a good little boy?

A nervous youth sits alone by candle-light
And with trembling heart and quill,
Renders his soul's passion in neat, quick, florid strokes.
Will she respond? Does she really love me?
What shall come of this feeling terrible and yet wonderful?

A young man paces about the room one Sunday afternoon,
His eyes filled with questions and concerns.
He awaits a call from a friend to break his melancholy.
Where is my life going? What shall I do?
A job at Hardees, years of pleasure sacrificed for study's rewards?
Or maybe the Army, or a life on the streets?
Where shall I haunt? Who shall I choose for a mate? Or shall I choose?

A middle-aged father sits beside his wife
In front of the dancing flames of a rustic fireplace
As the wind howls balefully outside on a cold winter's night.
What shall my son do with his life?
What sort of man shall my beautiful daughter marry?
Why can't I seem to keep astride them, anymore? Why do I feel weaker?
What is left for myself and my aging wife?
Where do we go from here?

A sad old man lies broken on his death-bed
Staring out his open window at the icy moon on a summer's night.
His wife has been long since taken from him by sickness.
His children are occupied with concerns which once he gave himself to.
His friends are miles away and from them
Only an occasional letter breaks the mournful silence of his solitude.
Where is the reward for my care and sacrifices?
Will the world even remember me as anything more than a number,
Another crumbling grey slab of rock in a chilly, desolate church-yard?
Why couldn't I have applied myself in my younger days?
Why must I meet the end alone?
How shall death come?

A tall dark shadow appears in the doorway of the dying man's bedchamber.
"Come, good fellow," says the figure.
"Thy reward draweth nigh.
No more need thee torment thyself
With musings dire and gay.
A time's at hand upon this day
To leave behind all now possessed
And the city of men, cursed or blessed,
No more to laugh, no more to weep
And with all questions laid to rest,

George Chadderdon © 1992