The headline has no punctuation because it’s tied to a fragment of a memory that I am trying to pull in from a place deep inside my mind.
Trying to pull it in so I can analyze and evaluate it because I am not sure what made me think of it or if it is important.
Could be something I said when I was a child or something one of my children said to me. Might have been a girlfriend, a boss or some other person who said it and for some reason it is floating close enough to the surface of my memory to be felt.
Almost wrote seen but opted not to because if I could see it I would know whether it merits attention.
Got a sister who texted us from Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong which reminded me of a family trip to San Francisco many years before.
Reminded me of cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf and asking my dad why we were always waiting for the girls to get out of the bathroom.
When you are seven you don’t think about women having to wait for a stall or what mom had to do to take of two toddlers and their five-year-old sister.
Memories that head towards fifty years might be suspect but it is not inconceivable to say we got in and out faster than they did.
Saw my primary care physician and when he reviewed the family history he asked “How did your father die” and I told him sometimes I still ask that question.
He had pancreatic cancer and went to hospice and we watched the drugs make him more comfortable and saw him slip away into an endless sea of sleep.
Over the days it took for the end to come sometimes I would hold his hand and squeeze it to see if I could get a response out of him.
I told him I used the pen I wasn’t supposed to use and that I was moving things around on his desk. I told him a bunch of things that I knew were likely to set him off because I wanted one last full clasp.
Even apologized for trying to aggravate him and then I let it go and told him I was ok if he was ready and promised to watch out for everyone.
Somewhere between then, the funeral and shiva I wondered if maybe we would see each other again. I was skeptical about heaven but who knows.
Grandpa Wilner told me he didn’t think there was anything afterwards but since no one came back it was possible that things were good enough no one wanted to.
“Doesn’t matter does it. If there is nothing else you won’t be bothered and there is you’ll be fine too.”
Grandpa died 11 years before my father did. During those last six months I asked Dad if he had any new thoughts about what came next and he repeated the words of his father.
I said I guessed you’ll find out and he nodded in affirmation.
“If there is something else I’d appreciate you figuring out how to let me know.”
Dad just smiled at me and and I smiled back.
I remember shoveling dirt into my father’s grave and thinking that if things went as they should I would wait forever until I found out what the answer to the question of whether we see each other again would be.
I knew a girl who told me we might have missed our window of opportunity and would have to wait until we were in our fifties.
When I was around 10 some of the neighborhood boys and I talked about how one day cars would have automatic seat belts and how the space shuttle might take us to the moon.
We spoke about The Jetsons and jet packs and the cool things that James Bond had and said when we were in our fifties technology would do amazing things for us.
I remember how ridiculous that sounded to me because when I was 10 my parents weren’t even forty so the idea of someone being in their fifties seemed kind of silly. That wasn’t as old as my grandparents were but it was pretty darn close.
It worried me a bit to think that I might not be able to use all the cool technology because in my fifties I might not be able to move well.
I never saw my grandparents run and my great grandparents had canes. It was unfair to ask me to wait forever to use cool technology especially if I wasn’t going to be able to take advantage of it because I was old.
Depending on how things go I probably have a full decade before I can retire, maybe a little bit longer. I have written about some of these thoughts before so some of you know a bit about my ideas.
Sometimes I ask will I have to wait forever before I can do it and wonder what life will look like then. Will I still have my health and be able to do as I want to.
Or will I be on a fixed income with limited resources.
I know what my preferences are and what I am working on. When you are almost middle aged you think about these things because you realize your window of opportunity is shrinking.
If there are questions to be answered and experiences to be had you have to take action or accept that you might otherwise never know.
Unfilled potential is one of those things that tick tocks inside my head. I can live with it in some areas and others well, I don’t want to.
Will I wait forever or will I close some doors to open others.