She was in tears when she called, “are you ok? You need to come over right now.”
So I hopped in my Camaro and drove over and was wrapped in a big hug while she cried on my shoulder and told me I had died in her dream.
“They shot you and you died.”
I gave my usual insouciant remark about not feeling dead and added some other flourish and promised that decades would go before I was gone.
“Can’t kill me around my birthday, it is against the rules and I make them.”
You say those kinds of things in your early twenties, especially when the only young people you know that died were killed in car accidents or things of that nature.
Sometimes life proves that you don’t know as much as you think you do and you get a rough education about the kinds of surprises you’d rather not have.
Couldn’t tell you what reminded me of that but a colleague from work did tell me that I have been celebrating birthdays for about seven decades now.
Suppose if you massage the numbers a bit you can say I started in the sixties but I certainly wasn’t around for all of them but who is counting anyway.
Watched the most recent episode of This Is Us and thought again about the changes that come when children start to care for their parents.
It is not always easy and at times it can be quite challenging. It changes you whether you want to be changed or not.
The show reminded me again that my siblings and I were very lucky because Dad never lost it. He knew exactly who we were even while on the morphine drip at the hospital.
When he saw I was upset he tried to pull himself out of the haze and I had to tell him not to do it.
“I am going to be fine. This is about you, not me.”
We never really saw the light go out in his eyes but I have friends who haven’t been as fortunate. They have watched their parents drift off into a place where the mind doesn’t work as it once did.
I have spoken with several of them and listened to their stories. I said I was sorry because that is all that can be said.
It is painful to lose a parent but there is a different sort of pain when you lose them while they are still conscious. We got lucky and received a gift.
I hope I can do that same for my kids.
There is a story I read a while back about a Ukranian citizen who is suffering from Alzheimers. Every day his children have to tell him about the war and every day they watch him go through the agony of processing it anew.
The colleague who made the comment about seven decades tells me he loves old movies like the Godfather. I nod my head and he lists a few others like Bull Durham, Top Gun and When Harry Met Sally.
Now I am starting to feel old and he tells me he has never met a Harry or Sally in his life who weren’t 80 years old.
I stop him and say I have known several who were far younger, but that I haven’t met a Sheldon who wasn’t almost 100.
“I have never heard that name before. Where does it come from?”
“You have to have heard it. There is a big scene in the movie with it.”
“What scene? I don’t remember.”
Later that night I realize I know at least one Sheldon who is my age but I haven’t seen him since college. He is a first cousin of a dead friend. I make a mental note to ask her how he is doing.
An hour later she texts me birthday wishes and we exchange pleasantries but I forget to ask. Thirty minutes after our text exchange I make another mental note to check and forget again because her husband texts me.
Maybe I am getting older or maybe it is not really important. Excuse me while I pause writing to see if the garage door is closed and if I locked the front door.
Not that it matters because thanks to my father I will check the doors before I go to sleep just to make sure they weren’t magically opened in between the last check.
It is not as annoying as when I woke up one night when I stayed over at the folk’s house. Dad decided to make sure I was still breathing.
“What do you need Dad?”
“I am just checking on you.”
“I am 46. We planned on my staying over because I don’t own a house in California anymore. Your grandchildren say it is possible that you snore louder than I do, but probably not. You could hear me without your hearing aids. Did you really need to wake me up.”
He says yes and that I ought to understand this parenting thing never goes away.
I am irked by being awake but I get it. Besides my grandfather told me that you never stop worrying about your kids.
“I am in my 90s and it never goes away.”
“It gets easier doesn’t it.”
“By the time your kids are in their sixties you just accept they are who they are and then you try to figure out how you got to be old enough to have kids in their sixties.”
I think that conversation was around 2005.
Grandpa died in 2007, feels like yesterday but even if I am off by a year or two it is not even close to having happened yesterday.