It takes a moment to realize the 972 on my phone is a country code and not referring to one of the local area codes so I answer instead of letting the call go to voicemail.
The Vilners in Israel are calling to say Happy New Year and to check in. I get the look from my immediate family and I know I must not be speaking English.
“Abba, when you try not to sound so American your accent in Hebrew is funny.”
I don’t care and focus on carrying as much of the conversation in Hebrew as I can. I am more than a little pleased that we are speaking at a normal pace and that I feel like I am following all that is said and providing answers that don’t sound ridiculous.
My cousins ask about the whole family and mention Dad for a moment and it makes me smile because it is the second set of holidays and he is very much on my mind.
There have been several moments recently where I needed to speak with him and couldn’t count on anything but echoes and memories.
“I am going to miss having you around.”
“You usually did whatever the hell you wanted regardless of what I said. You are going to be alright.”
“Of course I am going to be alright, but it doesn’t mean I won’t miss having you around. Don’t you miss grandpa?”
Dad nods his head.
“I guess you’ll know soon enough if you get to see him again. Send my regards.”
There are no awards for my accomplishments in the gym but I keep pushing anyway.
In some ways I feel physically stronger than I have in years and I wish I could pull twenty year-old me from out of the past and demand he work out with me so that I could compare.
I want to know if I am fooling myself and see if maybe that punk could push me into carving this block of dad body into something else.
The echoes and choices surround me and I hear voices and bells calling out from beyond the veil. There are male and female voices, some I recognize and some I think I might.
I want them to step out from behind the curtains and show themselves so that we might figure out what echoes are of the past and what are of the future.
My cousins ask if I can make it in time to share dinner and I tell them I don’t have access to an F-15 so I don’t think the flight will get me there in time.
They laugh and tell me they’ll keep the food warm and we talk about meals we shared in Encino and Tel-Aviv.
I have been to Israel many times but somehow never did manage to get there at the same time as my parents.
Maybe mom and I will manage to rectify that, maybe not.
Had I made the choices I had planned on making I never would have ended up in Texas because I would have moved to Israel 25 years ago.
Had I made other choices I would have ended up in Texas at least a decade earlier than I did.
We can’t go back in time but sometimes I am haunted by the ghosts of the choices not made and I hear them say there is time to adjust.
Sometimes when I close my eyes and see the obstacles and hurdles I wonder if maybe the point of regaining some of this physical strength is to enable brute force to sweep away what blocks the path.
The music plays and I know I’ll be like Luke and leave Tattooine one day.
It is not a question to me about whether I’ll be willing to make some changes but whether they happen now or in a year(s).
Been through so much I am not afraid to go through some more.
If you gave me a billion dollars I might buy a bunch of houses so that I could travel from place to place and have a variety of experiences.
I might fill them with all sorts of stuff and then again, I might not buy much.
The list of things I want is relatively long primarily because there are lots of experiences to be had and lessons to be learned.
But the things I need are few.
There isn’t much.
I remember telling Jericho that give me someone I can truly speak with and rely upon and the opportunity to share those moments and I am good.
That is what happens when things are taken and you realize you can lose possessions forever. You start to figure out what is really important.
It is magnified a thousand percent when you lose people and you know they are gone forever.
Given our not knowing what comes after death and having to assume there is nothing more you learn to try to be present with those who mean something to you.
You learn to do all you can to appreciate that time because it can go away.
Some people are like comets in our lives and for a brief time they light up our nights and then they move on.
Sometimes forever and sometimes until they circle back and we recognize we don’t have to watch them race by. We can build our own spaceship and join them in flight.
Or something like that.