Keeping Score

FRANKLIN MASON

October 20, 1993|By FRANKLIN MASON

It was his way. He did not believe anyone ''died,'' he preferred they ''passed away.'' And he kept score.

His passed-away score for the day was 10-4-1. It was a game he played. He got up, got the paper, read the obits, and counted. The score was 10-4-1. Ten passed away younger than he was, four were older, one was a tie.

It wasn't bad when they passed away older than he. It meant he probably still had a way to go. If four lived longer, so might he. He was sorry for those who passed away younger. For a moment he saw his own passing in the tie.

He knew young people never played the game. They didn't believe in passing away at all, certainly not their own. And that was the way it should be. But he knew that when they were older they'd play too. All old people played.

He'd played for some time now, kept score. He liked the word ''score.'' Abe Lincoln tossed it out at Gettysburg. Fourscore and seven. And threescore and ten, that was in Psalms. And how about fourscore? This was his own score now and it was in Psalms too:

''The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow: for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.''

What is there to say? He was glad for Psalms, was glad for every day and keeping score.

You win some and lose some, everybody knows. Everybody knows it's not that that counts. It's playing the game.

Franklin Mason is a retired Evening Sun copy editor.

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