Time Flies

My father is 91 years old and I talk to him every day at 5:00, and because we speak each day we often struggle for new conversation. He’s elderly, somewhat frail, and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, so it’s not like he goes anywhere. (for that matter, neither do I) We focus instead on what he’s read, what he watches on TV, and what he had for dinner. Most days the conversation is predictable, but every now and again he catches me by surprise with how really ‘with it’ he is for 91. He follows current events and sports, providing intelligent comments around both, but what truly amazes me is his recollection of things. Life, actually, his recollection of life. It is startling detailed.

My father can recount the details of his life 75 years ago, more even. He knew a time without cars, microwaves, washing machines, and he remembers with vivid accuracy the events of world economics and politics at the time. Most recently, when I marveled at just such a conversation, I noted how he recounted these memories as though they were yesterday. Time seemed to disappear and he was ‘in the moment’.

Yesterday, as I went for a walk through my own neighbourhood, I passed a house with 3 young children. They were playing on the driveway and their mother was sitting in a chair nearby supervising,,,,exactly as I did some 3 decades ago. My children, all in their 30’s now, have their own children, but I could swear only 2 weeks ago they were playing on the driveway where I sat watching. How can it be that so much time has elapsed?

Like my father, I can recall the details of the most mundane events 25 years ago as though it was yesterday, and while it’s delightful to revel in the memories, it’s also a stark reminder of just how quickly life goes by. Events you think leave a permanent etching in your brain eventually fade, until something triggers the memory and suddenly you’re reliving it all over again….in your mind. Where did the years go, and why did they go so fast?

I’ve always believed we are here for a reason, our own predetermined life and learning path, and that includes an expiry date. It’s baffling to comprehend why some die so young, or so tragically, or why some seem to suffer a life fraught with loss and pain. Then I remind myself, we all choose our path, and perhaps these are souls who’ve elected to come into this world in a role of suffering to facilitate the learning path of another. There’ve been cases where I just can’t justify it in any other way. These are the lives most challenging because the memories they recall are often difficult, but necessary, and I wonder do they too recall events of years past with vivid detail and accuracy?

The older we get the faster life goes by which is ironic because it is in our later years we want to take the time to reflect – slow things down. We stop sweating the small stuff. We laugh at the things we would’ve been shocked by. We lament all we neglected to do or say. And we berate ourselves for things we did do or say that we now regret. (seems we’re awfully good at beating ourselves up)  

Listening to my father recount the details of life 75 or 80 years ago reminds me to ‘stop and smell the roses’. Now when a memory of something my child said 35 years ago springs to mind, I welcome it, let it linger. And as difficult as it is, I also let in the harder memories, because they too bring comfort, even if it doesn’t make me smile, because any thought that tells me my brain is working is a good sign (If we didn’t suffer the lows, how would we recognize the highs) and often recalling painful memories helps bring closure.

Life really does go by in the blink of an eye so all we can do is reflect when we need to, regret nothing, and live in the moment, because all too soon we leave this place and our opportunity to effect change is lost.

Life really is so very good. Celebrate in it.

Partnerships

We all have someone on whom we rely for laughter, support, companionship, even money (I’m still looking for my sugar-daddy) but such partnerships are a two-way street (at least they should be)

We protect them when they are weakened, defend them when under assault, and love them unconditionally (ok, maybe not ‘unconditionally’ but a lot) What is it about these individuals that sparks our protective instincts? (Parenting aside, a child is a whole different kind of love….kids and pets)

My husband/partner is my soulmate. He defends me (most of the time) supports me (when it suits him) loves me despite my very few flaws (I can hear his guffaw of laughter here) and is as loyal to me as an old Cocker Spaniel. In return I do his laundry, cook his meals, clean his house, bear his children, nurse his health, schedule his appointments, entertain his friends, welcome his family, mend his socks, endure his golf, and print off his puzzles every day…. so yeah, it’s even….you know, the ‘partnership’.

Funny how very differently we all view partnership and our role in it. My husband likes to think he is my provider, mentor, friend and lover. (that translates to budget police, know-it-all, back-up companion when his friends have bailed, and physical outlet….I’m so proud)  Now, by contrast, I think he sees me as his conquest, challenge, and ultimate burden (which translates into ‘the only one who said yes’, ‘the one who tests him’, and ‘the best thing that ever happened to him’) It’s all in the interpretation…..and I prefer my version.

The tricky thing about partnerships is making them work, and that takes fortitude and patience. (In my experience people aren’t always likeable so it’s been more of an effort for me) Personalities are so finicky, and it’s one thing to put up with it when it’s a partner or a friend, because you made the choice to be with them, but when it’s someone who’s been forced upon you (like a boss or a neighbor) it’s not easy to take. These ‘partnerships’ can be difficult and much of the difficulty in accepting them is knowing you have no choice. (I have a boss in my past I’d like to see slide bare-assed down a razor blade and land in a pool of iodine,,,,ah, but I digress) Acceptance is critical, and the key. It’s also a total pain, but it’s reality.

At the end of the day partnerships are work, a lot of work. And they require sacrifice and tolerance and patience and compassion (ok, this is already too much work, I’m outta here) but the reward is comfort, acceptance, understanding, kindness,,,,,and yes, love. Regardless of the type of ‘partnership’ we engage in, it all comes down to loving and wanting to be loved. (Ok, I’m still holding out for money)

The Best Guest

I love to entertain and do so frequently. Welcoming friends and family into my home and laying out a spread gives me a total rush, and over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Now it doesn’t come without effort or expense, but it’s where my husband and I choose to spend our ‘entertainment’ dollars. We really don’t go out to dinner much, nor do we frequent any pubs or bars, preferring instead to stay in with friends so we are very selective about those with whom we like to spend our time, effort, and money.

We have one set of friends who stand out above the rest because they are the BEST guests. They eat everything I serve, never complain, have yet to advise of any food allergies or preferences and rarely leave me with left overs. Now THAT’s what I call good house guests!

I love to experiment with new recipes and often refer to them as my ‘guinea pigs’, and I keep waiting for criticism, an expression of likes or dislikes, but nothing comes. They eat everything with relish, shower me with accolades and welcome all invitations. We should all have such gracious houseguests.

I suppose much of their behaviour is a matter of courtesy and manners. I was raised to eat what was served without questioning or criticizing (now this advice also came with the threat that if I complained there’d be NO food) and never ever was I to say I disliked any particular food, which meant choke it down no matter what (hence my violent hatred of liver…vile, foul stuff….I’d rather chew my shoe)

I’ve come to realize too, that part of being a good houseguest is showing appreciation. People (like me)  take time and energy to plan a menu, set a table, create an atmosphere, and seeing my guests enjoy my efforts with appreciation is the ultimate reward.

Fortunately I’ve never been made to feel undervalued by a guest….(guess I know how to pick my friends) and I hope I never do, so until such time, I will continue to open my heart and my home to good friends. And should the day dawn that I inadvertently host an ungrateful guest…..mmmmmm, I was going to say it’d be the only time, but no. I’d invite them back just once more…..for boiled sneaker, or worse….liver.