The Joy Of A Simple Man

“Life is terminal. We are all going to go some time, but don’t worry, today isn’t my day.”

I loaded more weight than normal on the bar and banged out a set of 7 and tried not to scream in frustration.

There was a time when I could have thrown this up and down like a rag doll. A time when I could have thrown another 140 on and been good.

But that is not where I am at today and I have to deal with that.

Let’s be clear, I said “deal with” and not accept because I am not ready to concede or give in to the myth of “middle age.”

I have six months to add 40 pounds to the bar and to resume pumping that sucker with ease or something resembling it.

The Joy Of A Simple Man

The root of my frustration lies in not being to more to help and in having let certain things reach a point that is now intolerable.

There are moments where I pace back and forth like a lion in a cage, struggling to process information and to figure out what questions I need to have answered so that I can do more.

Reality hits me in the mouth and I remember I don’t know enough yet to determine what questions I should be asking and that is part of the frustration.

Because I know enough to have asked my frenemy Dr. Google to shed some light on a few things and the response was painful.

If 12 percent of what I saw is correct it is bad news.


The joy of a simple man is stimulated by cheesy movies from his youth and music that makes him think maybe there is a way.

Can’t bet against finding something, can’t rule it out because it is too soon to do so and truth is stranger than fiction.

Something about watching Rocky put his glove in Clubber Lang’s face and taunting him provides a boost.

It is silly, but during challenging moments you find respite where you can and there is nothing wrong with this one.


Multiple telephone calls race shrink the miles but none of them provide the sort of comfort I hope for and a soft voice inside my head reminds me that I am more than son and brother, I am a father.

That precludes my spending too much time lost in my concern and requires careful thought about conversations that will come with the children.

Hard conversations in which I will not be able to provide the kind of answers or comfort I want to lie ahead but the ambiguity of the present prevents me from engaging in those now.

Yet that same ambiguity doesn’t stop me from thinking and it doesn’t matter if I believe truth is stranger than fiction because there is a piece of me that demands I start to think a little bit.


Because if things go one way I am going to be grateful to not have to do it all on the fly and part of me wants to plan a little bit.

But another part, the superstitious won’t let me get too far afield…just in case.

And somewhere inside my head I hear ancient Jewish women talk about warding off the evil eye. They spit three times and hand me a Hamsa.

“One day you’ll be the senior Wilner man” they whisper.

“I can wait.”

“You don’t get to make that choice.”

“I’ll fight someone for the right. Show me who.”

There is no response and so I hop off the chair and do some push ups. Might as well train for a fight I don’t think I’ll ever have but still volunteer for.

He’d do it for me, but he can’t so I’ll do it for him.


The kids tell me they know when I walk upstairs because of how it sounds and I smile.

I remember the sounds of dress shoes on a wood floor and how I could tell whether dad was walking in or out of the house.

Back in the days when his feet were giant and mine were small.

Time passed and I became the one with giant feet. Somewhere there are pictures of me as a little boy wearing dad’s shoes book ended by my son toddler son wearing mine.

But the toddler son is long gone and stands almost as tall as I am.

He tells me it is hard to believe his cousin turns 18 next week and I shake my head because that means my son turns 18 this year too.

The echoes of footsteps ring in my head and I find myself staring at the ceiling while watching 40 some years of memories float by.

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