Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Time – Part 3

Continued from Time - Part 2 

Below is a trailer from a movie called “In Time” that came out last fall about a world in which time replaces money for currency and each person’s skin is marked with the amount of time they have left on this Earth.  I didn't see the movie (I think it actually bombed in theaters), but I find the concept of knowing how much time you have left to be thought-provoking.  It makes me wonder … How would you spend your time, if you knew how much of it you had left?  Would such a thing result in people being more purposeful or more selfish?  I'm not at all sure how that knowledge would that impact my own perspective.

Since the day of my dad’s diagnosis, I have thought a lot about the concept of time.  I constantly feel like I don’t have enough of it, just like Dad didn’t.  I’m not sure if that is a normal part of grief; I just know it’s a thought that pops into my head on a regular basis and it’s pretty disturbing.

As far back as I can remember, my dad hated to be late.  Maybe it was tied to competitiveness or maybe that’s why he was such a talented athlete; he frequently strategized about improving his race time and was always so relieved when he achieved his “time goal” in a race.

Just a few days after Dad went on ahead, my mom asked my husband to get Dad’s car ready to be sold.  I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t understand what the rush was; I wasn’t particularly attached to his car but was horrified at the idea that Mom might start getting rid of Dad’s stuff that soon.  When I asked her about her reasoning, what she said almost brought me to my knees in grief and sorrow: because Dad was frequently out of town during the week traveling on business, she said she was used to his car not being in the driveway most of the time and that if the car wasn’t there, she hoped she could just pretend that he was away on a business trip instead of gone forever.

With that, we all agreed it was fine for her to sell the car.  As my husband was cleaning it out, he came across several things that brought a smile to my lips and tears to my eye at the same time:  a huge bottle of Advil (always trying to ward away the soreness from a hard workout), several pads of sticky notes (which had really excited Dad when they first came out around 1980), tons of change (which he tended to stash everywhere), and – the icing on the cake – a mini-tape recorder on which he recorded messages to himself while he was driving.

I remember when those little recorders first came out on the market many years ago when I was a teenager; Dad was so excited to get one as he said that was he could just let it record while he talked to himself as he drove.  He continued this practice in the current day, especially on long drives during which he would plan and make lists of things he wanted to remember or needed to do later.

My husband, my siblings, my mom, and I stood in the cold of my parents’ garage that day, and I pushed the Play button on the recorder.  Dad’s voice, salve for our wounds that stung but was comforting at the same time.  It was oddly heartening to listen to the flurry of segmented messages he had recorded for himself in brief stints.  Many things he said were related to his job: reminders to call customers, things to put in his next presentation, info about the grain trade market.  Some were of a personal nature, including one that stood out to us:  He said, “Time myself walking a mile; maybe go to the track.”  I knew the background on this statement for him was that he wanted to calculate his projected time for completing the marathon portion of the upcoming Ironman triathlon including any potential walk-breaks he might need to take along the way.  But, given what had happened since he had made that recording, his reference to time seemed so prophetic, so profound.  I know he didn’t have any idea that his time was very limited when he said those words, but, listening to them in the cold grayness of the garage that day and missing his so much already, I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart.

 More about my perspective:  Time - Part 4

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