I won’t blame poor writing upon the fancy Tequila I am drinking or the jet lag after a week in Florida anymore than I’ll give either credit for solid writing.
Neither of them are responsible for what the doctors say, the reports they provide or anything other than whatever control I choose to provide them with.
Perhaps these external influences offer a secondary push towards a harder and more colorful portrayal of my thoughts and feelings but ultimately I am responsible for what I place upon the page.
Other than genetics that is, I can’t say to my children that BRCA genes and or any relationship caused by Ashkenazi blood has much to do with my own personal choices.
Can’t say that our not being a family of giants or dwarves has anything to do with my choices either.
The things I have to take responsibility for fall into other categories, but terminal illnesses for the most part are outside of anything their parents, grandparents and or extended family have done.
Death Is Coming For Us All
We’re six weeks or so away from the 14th anniversary of the last adventure. Six or so weeks away from the conversation I had with my grandparents about why I was racing for the airport.
I remember the phone calls, the face-to-face moments and standing in a room where I carried on a one sided conversation wondering what the outcome of the storm would be.
Eleven hours of air travel of not knowing what would await me on the other side taught me how to put myself in another world in which I was disconnected from reality…mostly.
There were moments when it poked me hard enough in the side to gain my attention, forcing me to recognize things might take a turn I didn’t like.
But I didn’t let those moments dictate my thoughts for long because there was nothing I could inside that metal tube and allowing my active mind to run would have made for a much longer plane ride.
So I found a way to drift off into other things knowing that upon landing I would reconnect with whatever form reality would take.
Fourteen years ago my grandfathers told me that death would come for us all and said I ought to be prepared.
“You’re a man now and you’ll deal with whatever comes your way. You’ll handle your responsibilities, even if they grow in size because of the changes that may come.”
I remember grandpa grabbing my wrist and looking me in the eye. “You’ll take care of your mother and your sisters…if you have to. You might not.”
Can’t say I remember exactly what I said, but I remember the conversation and looking back I also the hear the echo of a father looking out for his daughter as well as his grandchildren.
You Lack A Soft Touch
I grow gruffer in my old age and I recognize sometimes I am more direct than I need to be.
There are moments when more finesse is appropriate and I am surprised someone fails to say “you lack a soft touch” as the words I use batter them.
It is not the intent to use such a pointed brush upon a stark landscape for everyone, even though I often choose that for myself.
What works for me isn’t a panacea for processing hard truths for the masses or even for all individuals. Though I wish to prescribe it as a curative for those I care most about I understand it to be a bitter tonic.
But the responsibility of the weight that is coming requires me to figure out a way to place it upon my shoulders in a fashion that makes it more comfortable to bear.
Yet the responsibility requires me to recognize the fluidity of a time frame that will always be too brief yet perhaps much longer than anticipated.
And therein lies the big challenge where we try to prepare for a race that will be run for years without knowing precisely when the run shall start.
LA Or Texas
Five years ago I wandered into a shul in Fort Worth and walked around the Purim carnival chuckling silently at how familiar some of it was and how foreign it could be.
Children dressed as Mordecai, Esther and Haman played games while their parents watched them play games.
A mother dressed as Lincoln’s crazy wife ushered her daughters past me, never looking up long enough to see me smile.
I got it, the girls were anxious to try to win prizes and I wondered whether my own children were doing the same in back in LA.
This year we talked about where we would go for Purim but didn’t spend time talking about carnivals because the kids are too old to be interested.
I thought about that first experience in Texas and smiled at the memory and how plans are adjusted.
Just a few weeks later there is a good chance I’ll be in LA for Purim but not for the purpose of cursing Haman and toasting Mordecai/Esther.
Maybe I’ll go hear to shul for it anyway and maybe I’ll sit there and wonder if the kids are at a shul in Texas and chuckle at how five years later the situation is reversed.
The Things & People You Miss
I looked at the younger Mr. Wilner and asked him when he was going to notice that the mountain man beard had been converted into a goatee.
“You need to pay attention to life because one day you’ll recognize the moments that passed. One day the things and people you miss will jump out at you.”
“Dad, shouldn’t you put people before things.”
I smiled, called him a smart ass and told him to be smarter than I was and am.”
He nodded his head and we spoke for a few more moments.
“You there are things we can’t avoid and hard shit that we have to face but it doesn’t mean we always have to give up hope or forget about our dreams. Sometimes you have to play the long game.”
He nodded his head and a few moments later I lumbered off thinking about things that happened and that which didn’t.
It is normal when faced with this sort of challenge and somewhere in the midst I remembered another Emily Dickinson quote that has always made me smile.
“Write me of hope and love, and hearts that endured.”