Pulled a white undershirt off of the shelf, pulled it over my head and stared at the man looking back at me and remembered when he was a boy.
Sometimes he’d put on dad’s shirt or try on his shoes and wonder if he would be big enough for them to fit.
They do now and sometimes when the kids see me in one of these shirts they ask if I think I am grandpa.
Sometimes it makes me smile and sometimes it catches me by surprise and I remember dad is gone forever.
It is a bittersweet feeling.
The younger Mr. Wilner reminded me today that forever gone doesn’t mean forever forgotten as he found a way to fight with me as I am now and as I who I used to be.
But what jumped out at me again is no matter how different dad and I may be there are some areas in which we aren’t.
“I am your fucking father and not one of your little friends.”
He took a step back and I remembered when I would do the same. I was sitting up in bed, hadn’t moved at all, but I guess that growl transcends time.
Hell, I used it last night on a kid at the store because he was too busy flirting with a girl to acknowledge the rest of us who were waiting to be helped.
Barely raised my voice, but it got his attention.
When the young master said “just because your father did” I cut him off and told him I wasn’t interested.
“It is a hard world all over. When you can carry your weight on your own you’ll be your own man and make whatever rules you want in your own place.
I miss your grandfather terribly, but you didn’t know him like I did. You weren’t there to see me standing in your place or to see him shrug his shoulders at me and tell me the same thing I told you.
It is a hard truth but the world is harder yet and few will care about your personal challenges. So sometimes you have to just suck it up.”
We went back and forth for a few more but we came to an understanding. I felt badly about some of it because I want life to be easier and I want to help but I won’t cripple him by doing things he needs to do.
And I will not lie about reality, but I also won’t let the weight of expectations crush everything either.
So I took time to remind him about the path I have taken and pointed out how many times I have failed, fallen and been beaten down.
“Sometimes I got back up because I got hit so hard I bounced and sometimes it was because I was determined to prove some people wrong.
It was far more painful than I would like it to have been, but I proved to myself that I can do it. And that is enough for me to know I can do it again if necessary.”
I pointed at his chest and told him that he needed to believe it there and pointed at his head.
“Your family knows you have got this, but you have to focus on remembering that because that faith in yourself is what will get you through whatever comes.”
He smiled and nodded his head and we went our separate ways.
I ended up on the computer and read a post by a young dad blogger who said there was no harder time in life than raising a toddler and chuckled.
It is all relative.
When the kids were really young I sometimes longed for days in which they could take care of themselves and I wouldn’t feel sleep deprived or worried about them choking on something or falling down the stairs.
I wanted to tell the younger father how lucky he is that his kids are still young enough to believe he is superman but it probably wouldn’t be helpful for him.
As for me, well I remember that post high school period and how I sometimes wondered if my parents were really that misguided about some things so why should it be different now.
There was a moment today when the bells went off and I wondered if the person speaking had any recognition of how I felt and interpreted things.
Wondered if they sensed inside my head I saw a big rope and pictured myself sawing through it.
Actually I started with a scissors but I liked the imagery of the knife and flipped to that. The rope had been fraying for a long while but this was just speeding up the process and I figured so be it.
You can’t use one hand to pretend to hold on with while the other is pushing away.
Maybe I was grumpier because I felt the five miles from the day before and that pissed me off.
Maybe it was because my body ached from the weights and I have a mild dose of anxiety about whether age is catching up with me.
Maybe it is because I am beginning to grudgingly look at making more dietary changes to see if that helps.
Regardless of the reason or reasons it is how I felt and what I saw which only made me think about how nice it would be to have a couple trillion so I could buy the castle above and a few more.
I am ready to have a series of places to hole up for a while and emerge as the feeling moves me.