It was a slow fast with less meaning this year for all of the obvious reasons.
The funny thing about it is I wasn’t particularly hungry and until around six I didn’t notice the lack of food or coffee.
What I did notice was not being able to call my dad and grandfather to ask them if we would all go to Yizkor together.
It didn’t occur to me that this would jump out at me but it did. I suppose if I had thought of it I would have realized it made sense.
My grandmother died when I was very little and it wasn’t until I became a father for the second time that it really hit me how hard it must have been for my dad to not have had his mother around for so many years.
I guess he was about 30 when she died so she never met my youngest sisters and certainly never got to see her own children really grow up.
Dad and grandpa went to Yizkor together for as long as I can remember, or at least until grandpa died 12 years ago.
A Little Life Experience
Grabbed a little snort of single malt before I remembered the doc has me taking some new medicine. Old Doc Google slapped me on the wrist saying that you are to be quite cautious at mixing this pill and alcohol so I told Old Doc Google to STFU and muttered not to believe everything you read online.
I think grandma was around 56 or 57 when she died and I know dad thought of that as being quite young.
He didn’t think of himself as being particularly old but he did tell me that so much time and activity had passed between his fifties and his seventies he wasn’t particularly sure exactly what had happened and when.
“Are you telling me I ought to be concerned about your memory?”
Dad glared at me and shook his head.
“Hey smartass, you’re 49 now. Why don’t you try telling me what happened when you were 23.”
I didn’t miss a beat and provided a play-by-play.
“You’re full of shit. I know some of that stuff is true and some of it you just made up on the spot. I can do that too.”
I laughed and said it is genetic.
“Hey now, your father is the one who hired a man to pretend to be his father so that he would be allowed to go back to school.”
Dad smiled, sighed and said he thought I understood the concept. “You remember the big stuff, but the little things…well maybe.
My mother was really young.”
I nodded my head and agreed. I have a small chunk of time before I hit my mid fifties, let alone the tail end but I know now how close that really is.
Life experience is invaluable.
The things that have happened since my early forties have changed me and though I was aware of much of this now I know it.
I don’t own boxing gloves anymore or have anything to wrap my hands so when I went to work on the heavy bag I knew it might leave a mark.
Started off slowly throwing a couple of basic combinations and as I got warm I found a rhythm that led me into pound it with all I had.
Didn’t have the stamina to last as long as I once could but long enough for me to hear my grandfathers talking about Benny Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson and a variety of other fighters.
Even after grandpa was gone dad and I would sometimes talk about the fights and fighters we had seen and sometimes I would look at him and say “you’re a different grandpa than my own.”
He’d smile and occasionally ask if there was something wrong with that.
That was as close as you ever got to hearing dad question himself. He was as comfortable with himself as a person could be.
Grandpa seemed to be a lot like that too, but my perspective is/was different.
I think I am similar and growing more so as time goes on.
If you ask me to elaborate I might say that the men I would ask about it are all gone now. I have no uncles, grandfathers or father on this plane who can respond.
All I have got is my life experience and my thoughts and that is ok.
I read Torah every Yom Kippur for around 25 years. Did it so often I knew it cold and didn’t worry about practicing before hand like many of the other readers.
One year I went up and the scroll wasn’t in the right place. The funny part is since I started chanting before I looked down I didn’t know that.
When I hit the second line I looked at the Hebrew and got tripped up. It would be as if you are reading this post and it suddenly moved from this line to the second line at the top where I mentioned not being hungry.
It made sense but the chronology was off and thus I discovered I had made a mistake by not confirming in advance that I was reading from the right place.
So I stopped, said something to the cantor and we fixed things and then I started over and finished.
Later on when I hit the john a guy in the bathroom asked me if I had seen the arrogant man who had insisted on stopping the Torah reading because he had made a mistake.
“Yeah, that guy is something else.”
I tried to take a nap around 3:45 but couldn’t fall asleep. Lay in bed and tried to thing of memories of dad and I from each year of my life.
Thought about the time I became almost famous and went looking to see if the LA Times had a link to the story.
They did but they don’t have the picture of me that ran in the paper.
That is ok. Mom and dad had the article framed so it is not like I can’t see it if I really need to. Not that it matters because my mental image of me resembles the kid in the photo so it is not hard to picture.
Anyway I read the article and thought back to not being certain what to tell the journalist who interviewed me.
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and what responsibilities I had so I just fumbled my way through it.
If it happened today I would do things differently but that is said with the benefit of a quarter century of living.
Can’t replace life experience.
When the end comes we like to say that we wouldn’t change a thing because doing things differently would change our lives in ways we might not like.
I don’t like that idea very much right now because it suggests to me that given the same opportunities we ought not to try to avoid to make the mistakes we made in the past.
At this moment I can’t stomach that idea. Can’t accept walking down a path that is unsatisfactory because change might cause other unforeseen problems.
And I won’t do it.
Some changes have already taken place and more will come because I won’t let fear drive me to tread water.
It is just a different way to drown.
Two or three days ago a certain teenager battled with me about a bunch of things. I looked him in the eye and said “We’re not fucking trees. We’re not rooted to one place, thought or idea.”
I meant it then and I mean it now.
I am not a fucking tree and if need be I will move heaven and earth to make the changes that need to be made.
That is how you live a life where you end it feeling like you wouldn’t change things because you weren’t afraid to make changes when you could.
Here is to a better year for all of us.