Got Johnny Cash playing in my ears and though Ring Of Fire and Walk The Line would be perfect for the moment there is a different focus now.
Cuz there is a plane ride coming in the near future and it won’t be long before I can hear dad singing. Going to land of my birth for work and to dance with spirits, but not of the liquid kind.
This time I’ll be a different kind of ghost…buster.
When I play Indiana Jones in the cave of the Wilner men the newest member of the ghosts that occupy it won’t be happy that I won’t have time to do a proper job.
Makes me snort and chuckle because he won’t be there to glare at me or to tell me he is not interested in my nunsense when I wink and tell him I am technically following his instructions but yet I’ll hear his voice and feel his presence.
Just One Kiss
Grandpa Wilner was there when I was photobombing people at a graduation and a man walked up and asked me if I wanted to meet death.
“Do you know him? I would be happy to shake his hand one day but I have something I need to do.”
“Oh yeah, what is that?”
“Kiss a girl from Cleveland one more time. It will be life changing.”
The man scrunched up his face and told me if I wanted my lips to keep working I needed to stay out of his pictures. I laughed and told him if he remembered to take his lens cap off he might have something to worry about.
What I didn’t mention was that when this all started his lens cap had been off and he had presumably been snapping good pictures.
Presumably is the operative word because in the days of 35 mm film there wasn’t any way to know if you had good or bad shots until the pictures were developed.
Grandpa told me to remember to keep an eye on the guy’s hands and to stand just far enough way he would have to reach for me.
“Got a roll of quarters I can hold in my palm?”
Grandpa laughed and told Dad what I had been doing.
“You’re going to get yourself in trouble if you are not careful and that roll of quarters might not be enough.”
“Don’t worry Dad. Grandpa has my back. He can still wake a guy up and put him to sleep just like Benny Leonard.”
Grandpa smiled and told me Benny Leonard was one of the greatest Jewish fighters and I nodded my head. He and my other grandfather had swapped comments and thoughts about Benny Leonard and some of the other Jewish fighters throughout my childhood.
At the time the photo bombing took place Benny had been dead for more than 40 years. I had read a couple of stories about him and knew that he had to be an old guy if my grandfathers said he was a fighter when they were kids.
Barney Ross was another Jewish fighter they would talk about sometimes but some of those conversations were different. He was a couple of years older than they were, basically a contemporary and from Chicago.
They said he was a guy who gave the antisemites reason to think twice about messing with us.
Dad took me aside and made a point to tell me not to put my grandfather in a bad position. “My father won’t let anyone just take a swing at you but that doesn’t mean he needs to have someone take a swing at him because you were acting dumb.”
It is funny thinking back upon it all and how the grandchildren don’t think of my father as being particularly serious because I remember that serious man.
Not that he was always like that, but I saw an ample supply of it.
Maybe it is because you reach a certain age where you can almost see everything as Tevye does and even if some experiences aren’t quite the same there is enough to follow.
Someone asked me about the pandemic and life getting back to normal and I said we’re well on our way. They didn’t believe me and disagreed but that is because it doesn’t fit their political narrative.
I told them that if we go back to 9/11 that is enough evidence for me.
We collectively spent the first couple of years afterwards waiting for the next attack and praying it didn’t happen.
We lived through active changes to how we fly and watched them get adjusted by various developments such as the shoe bomber.
My kids don’t remember a time when we would be dropped off 20 minutes before a flight and not worry about going through security.
They know stories and heard we used to drop off and pick up at the gate, but they don’t know of it as being routine for all.
Sometimes I think about the way flying used to be but outside of stories or questions it doesn’t come up. When I go to catch my next flight I’ll block off a large chunk of time just to be safe.
It is irritating, but less irritating than missing a flight.
Two years into the pandemic we’re not quite done but we are closer to the finish than the start.
And when we get there, we’ll make a few more adjustments just as we have thus far.
Nothing stays the same, time never stops moving and change never stops happening. It is just how it is and in the not so distant future I’ll be a different kind of ghost…buster.