“This is your opportunity old man to get me to agree to follow your instructions. Took you 49 years to get me to mostly agree to do as you ask, make the best of it.”
I don’t remember if the conversation took place before or after I made him so angry he spit out his teeth, but I remember it because it was just us and I was laser focused.
The sole advantage of knowing that death is coming and the best you can do is slow it down forces you to take advantage of the moment or know you may never get it again.
Some of you don’t understand or appreciate how seriously I take some of this. You mistake my insouciant, do whatever the hell I want nature to mean I only sort of listen.
When I got the call saying he wouldn’t make it through the night I asked mom to tell dad to hold on, found a flight and then got the hell out of Dodge.
I’ll never forget trying to exit the plane and begging the people in front of me to step aside. The guy who told me I was lying might have been stuffed inside an overhead compartment or accidentally hit by a suitcase and knocked over three rows.
Funny how you can never forget some things and others can be so blurry.
I tucked my suitcase under my arm and sprinted through LAX proving in an emergency I can do better than a seven minute mile.
Sometimes I talk to my dad and grandfathers in the car. When I mentioned it to someone they said it sounded crazy and I said they sounded like they had developed a sudden speech impediment.
I got on the treadmill Sunday night and gradually increased the speed until I was running at a 6.5 minute mile pace and smiled because I can go faster.
And then I stopped smiling because I was too busy sucking wind, I have no real stamina for moving at that pace so the ability to really run is limited.
The thing about running is I don’t particularly enjoy the distance stuff, never have. I am more of a sprinter by nature and though I was never the fastest guy I wasn’t the slowest either. I could hold my own.
So why try to open things up on a treadmill and see whether the engine can still drive this car?
Because inside this almost 50 year-old man there is a five-year-old boy who believes in magic and life without limits.
He is counterbalanced by the older guy who says we aren’t going to get all that much older if we don’t find a way to do more than just lift weights.
Run the calories off.
So I lumbered onto the treadmill again today and ran for a little bit, lungs and legs screamed at me for a while but heart and head won that battle.
They said if you push yourself maybe you can get back to the days where you could run three or four miles. Do that and you’ll see the extra weight melt off of you.
“Run a seven minute mile and you can be done in 21 minutes or so.”
The mockup of dad’s tombstone is on a different tab. His body lies in a different state than I live in.
Part of me isn’t bothered by any of this because I am my father’s son. There is no benefit in getting angry or frustrated. It won’t bring him back.
I want the stone to mark his grave but I don’t need the words upon it to be mine or require it to have the perfect quote and symbol.
Those things won’t bring him back either and they won’t tell you who he is to those who knew him. When people ask for a description I usually leave it at he loved us and we loved him.
What is better than that?
Dad and I didn’t say it often, there weren’t many ‘I love you’s’ but I never doubted or questioned it.
I know some things.
Some fires remain lit always.
In a short time all of my sisters will celebrate their first birthdays without dad and then I’ll celebrate mine.
That number sounds so much older than it is
There will be guests here for Pesach and we’ll see if I choose to tell my dad’s story about my Zaide and his pronunciation of “Herb.”
We’ll see if the ghosts of those who used to sit around the table at my parents’ house choose to make their presence known or if they’ll show up in a silent movie inside my head.
I know who I used to be and who I once was but now I am just beginning to find out who I am about to become.
Think some more people are going to find an empty space and or echo where they used to place me, this holiday is about freedom right.