Saturday, June 6, 2015

Looking Forward and Back

I suppose we're all at the center of our own stories and from where we stand can gaze backward in time to what we remember and forward to what is yet to come. 


At the beginning of May I went to my youngest granddaughter's birthday party - she was two, born on Cinco de Mayo. Of course she was manic running everywhere on this day just for her. She would only let me hold her for a few seconds before she would squirm to be let down so she could run laughing to her mom or her big brother (he is 5 and knows everything). Her story is just beginning.

At the end of May, my wife and I traveled to Minnesota to spend time with her birth father and his wife. It was magical. They were gracious to us and took us to one of their favorite places an arboretum. As we rode the tram around the acres and acres of flowers I couldn't help watching their faces. They obviously have been on the planet a significantly longer time than either my wife (we're both 64) or myself, seen more, felt more, grieved more. Their reference points are fixed in times that I know only a little about (World War II, Big Bands). Assuming they live the same amount of time as I do,their story is shifted in time about twenty years from mine. Simply put theirs are lives offset from mine but no different in the things that matter.

From Minnesota, my wife and I traveled to Iowa to celebrate the life of her father who died earlier this year. A gardener, we skipped flowers for a basket containing a cabbage, green beans, and cherry tomatoes - all vegetables he grew in his garden when he was able. Each member of the celebration chose a cherry tomato and saluted this wonderful man and told stories of his life. And he did have stories. His time in the war. When he first met my wife's mother. The births of all his children. His life window closed in January. His time to walk on this planet was over. Yet we his offspring remained.

As a mathematician, I have no illusions. The mortality rate for every generation is 100%. I fully intend to enjoy my time to strut upon this planet. I mean to write more books. Hug more grandchildren. Listen to the tales of those older than myself. Smell a flower at an arboretum. But someday, if I'm lucky, I'll move quietly from this plane of existence to another. Others will celebrate my life, perhaps read passages from my books (I would like that). Then they will remain. And that will be okay.

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