My father was a talented pianist. But as he aged, he lost his ability to play. Or so he said. His friends didn't believe him, and sometimes at parties they would ask him to perform. I remember the late time he obliged. I was in grade school, and on this particular night, he played one piece after another with such zeal. I liked to watch his hands race over the keys, so I went to stand by his side. It was then that I noticed a sprinkling of blood on the keys. A small sprinkling, to be sure. But I announced it to the room. My father stopped suddenly, wiped the keys with his handkerchief, and sat down.
He was on several kinds of medicine then. I don't know which or what diagnosis he had a that time, but I do know he always said his skin was thin. And he would often mix his meds and take more than was recommended.
After he sat down, the room felt so quiet. A bleak mood hung over the room. That was when Eleanor Ross Taylor, a poet and friend of my parents, turned and said to me in her quiet voice: being a writer is one of the kindest arts. You can do it well even as you age. In fact it can become your friend in your later years.
I've always taken comfort in her words.