There is something poignant watching the empty rocking chair with Roy’s guitar in the Traveling Wilbury’s End of The Line video that always caught me, but touches me more than ever.
Mulled over whether I’d share the lyrics I appreciate most but I am too busy enjoying the joy of arguing with the uninformed and the foolish.
Foreigners who tag me on Facebook to tell me that if I don’t like Trump I ought to move elsewhere and how they wish they lived here.
I ignore half of them and tell the others I find it humorous to see them stick up for a man who wouldn’t piss on them if he saw they were on fire.
The man they praise wouldn’t open the doors for them because he doesn’t believe in the New Colossus or that Lady Liberty welcomes the huddled masses and that wretched refuse wasn’t meant to be used as a pejorative.
Neil sings and I think of a different time and place.
Heading closer and closer to the a trip home to visit dad and farther away from the days when we could have the kind of conversation I need to have today but have to place as a want that will never be filled.
You never realize how close you had become and how much of this or that you had until it is taken from you.
I told him more than once that I wasn’t going to forget how he filled my house with sisters and couldn’t come up with one brother.
Told him all sorts of other stories and talked about the things that only men can appreciate and he asked me not to get into it with mom or my sisters.
Nodded my head and asked him why I would even open that door when I can’t explain it.
“It is like pretending we know what it means to be pregnant or give birth, you can understand but you can’t know.”
He nodded his head and we sat in silence for a while.
Later on I’ll ask him about going to the shvitz with grandpa and about a few times when he took me with grandpa to see my great grandfather.
I’ll ask if he remembers if my uncle joined us and if for a moment it was five Wilner men.
He’ll ask if it matters and I’ll say not really but that when I was seven I would have really liked that and he’ll shrug his shoulders.
“Maybe. How much do you remember from when your kids were seven? You’re so damn busy some things slip by.”
I nod my head and we slip back into the familiar silence.
We’re in the rehab facility and it is just the two of us, for how long I am not sure. Mom spends hours here so I have told her to go take a nap or do her thing and I’ll keep dad company.
Dad passes out mid sentence and then I watch his arms raise and his hands go into motion. I suppose it is a dream, I am not really sure, I just know that I am watching him type on an imaginary keyboard.
This will repeat itself multiple times but he doesn’t always type, sometimes he uses a hammer or a screwdriver.
One of the attendants will ask me how I know this and I’ll say he and I worked together 10,000 times, I know the gesture.
I know the movement and even those his legs have failed him I know the way he tries to move he thinks he is under the sink, the car or a ledge. I know he is trying to get a better angle.
I record some of this and play it for him.
“I don’t know what is going on or why I am doing this.”
It is the closest he comes to telling me he is afraid and this moment will come back to me a million times as will the way he tried to comfort me one last time.
One last time, a few hours before the drugs at the hospice rendered him more comfortable and made conversation impossible.
The more comfortable he became, the farther away he went. It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets about doing it, but sometimes it haunts me a bit.
I feel myself growing quieter and withdrawing from things.
Some of it is because I spend my days engaged in small talk and nonsense so by the time the early evening comes I am less inclined to say much of anything to anyone.
It doesn’t mean I don’t speak but it does mean it isn’t uncommon for me to be very quiet. Sometimes people are surprised to hear that and they ask how an extrovert can be so quiet.
I don’t know if is the right word for me anymore, if it ever was.
I can still speak in front of five people or 5,000 but quiet time is quiet time. If you ask me if this is a phase or forever I will tell you I don’t know.
The plow that was hitched to my back is still there and every day I drag if forward and do what I have to do to make it across the field again.
Sometimes I hear friends tell me stories about how they think they can retire in 5, 10, or 15 years and I smile for them.
Sometimes they tell me about how they are struggling to go on another vacation or to do this, that or the other thing and I smile for them.
I smile because I truly am happy for them and because there is no point in my telling them they are lucky those are options.
Comparison is the thief of joy I tell myself and this I firmly believe, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments when instead of smiling I want to ask them to reconsider their complaints.
Some of us were once home owners and high flyers and things happened.
But I never do share such thoughts because there is little point or purpose in doing so. Comparison is still the thief of joy and more importantly, I have to remain focused on my task.
Fifty year-old men are told to temper their dreams and recognize their limitations, assuming that they haven’t been forced to do so already.
I am very aware of what I can and cannot do but only accept it within a specific framework.
You’re unlikely to ever see me suit up as a Dodger, Laker or Raider for an entire season, let alone one game.
Those days are probably over, assuming they were ever a possibility.
But retiring before I turn 70 and taking the kind of vacations I want to take, well those aren’t out of reach.
Neither are writing books, owning a home or three or any number of other things.
So the trick is to stay on task and to one day go home and tell dad I did what I said I would.