Someone once told me when I became a parent at age 20 that the days would be long but the years would be short. Like any recent teenager, I hadn’t much perspective on the passing of time, of hours whiling away, slipping like water down the drain.
I wanted time to pass. I wanted to get to summer and then I couldn’t wait for Christmas to come. When would the school year ever start?
I thought my first son Beau would never be old enough to swim in the deep end, to be potty trained, to learn to read, to stay home alone. The first year of my son’s life when I was home taking care of him and my terminally ill Dad, was torture. I was stuck with a newborn and my dying dad in my childhood home for hours on end.
To break up the day I watched Jerry Springer at 11; checked the mail at 3; went to McDonalds for coffee at 6. Too slow.
On the other side of that clock that run like molasses, with a son in his third year of college and another in double digits, with almost 15 years with my husband Mike under my belt, I want nothing more than for the clock to slow down.
I want time to fix my photo albums and to go on that trip to England’s castles I always planned with my mother. I want time to write a children’s book and a book about my Dad. I want time to go to Hawaii with my husband and to play in a basketball league with my brothers. I want time to see Beau graduate college and to meet Donovan’s first girlfriend.
The concept of time hasn’t changed but I have.
In light of that change I have cut out Facebook and reality television. I’ve quit smoking and I have stopped calling people who don’t really care that much about me. I don’t join causes I don’t care about or answer the phone when I’m with my family.
If I’ve only got a little more than half my life left I don’t want to squander a minute on things I don’t love. There are enough of those things you have to do anyway like laundry, watering plants, dusting, grocery shopping, and getting gas and I won’t add to the list.
It’s the glory of getting older; it’s called “cutting the fat”.
I often wondered how my Dad could bear to spend his last months doing such ordinary things; how each day he could spend at home with his family with no apparent purpose other then to exist in our space.
I realize now that while I was wishing away those slow days, he was cherishing them. Each slow ordinary minute was a gift to him; it was the gift that kept on giving with every sweep of the second hand until it didn’t any more.
It might have been his best year.
It might have been my best year.
We just didn’t know it at the time.