Years start to seem more like just a second ago

BY BOB WACHS, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/4/19

All along many of our nation’s highways are mile markers telling us how far we’ve gone from Point A to Point B.

That, obviously, can be pretty helpful if we know where we started and know …

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Years start to seem more like just a second ago

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All along many of our nation’s highways are mile markers telling us how far we’ve gone from Point A to Point B.

That, obviously, can be pretty helpful if we know where we started and know where we’re going but it doesn’t always work out like that in real life. We may — usually do, in fact — know where and when we started but we often don’t know just where Point B is and I’m pretty sure most of us don’t know just how long we have to travel to get to wherever it is we’re going in this trip of life.

Regardless, tide and time wait for no man and, in fact, seem to go by rather quickly.

This past Wednesday, Oct. 2, marked 27 years since my dad crossed the Great Divide.

Twenty-seven Bob Seeger sang, “Where’d they go?”

We knew he had heart disease and probably wasn’t good for 80 more. We just didn’t expect him to check out that day.

I still think of him often, especially when someone who knew him mentions him, and still miss him. For the longest time after that day in 1992 he stayed in the forefront of my mind. I could still hear his voice, sense the smell of his cologne, remember his mannerisms and words and phrases and advice.

Now, I must admit, I don’t always think of him every day. Some of that is because there are other folks in my world now who weren’t there then, folks like six grandchildren of different ages and kinds of interaction, six folks I wish he could have known, folks who require some of my time now, not that I mind at all.

I don’t hear his voice, although it’s still on some old family VHS tapes on the shelf and we still have a gizmo that plays VHS tapes. On the built-in bookcases in my study is an old empty bottle of Old Spice and one of a fragrance called “Bay Rum” after-shave that was his. If I sniff really hard, I can conjure up a smell or two. And I’ve got an article or two of his clothing, a 1940s necktie I wear occasionally as well as the white coveralls that he wore as a member of the Apex Volunteer Fire Department when it was that and we lived there in the 1940s. I can’t wear them, wouldn’t want to even if I could get more than part of one leg into them.

I remember lots of the things we did together — frog gigging, playing Parcheesi and Carrom, cooking and eating barbecue chicken. And I think of him when I do some of those things, especially the chicken part. We played Rummy and watched “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke” on Saturday nights. Now when I run across one of those old shows on satellite television, I remember how much he liked them.

And I remember many of his sayings to my brothers and me, things like “Keep it between the ditches” and “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” That one didn’t make sense to me for a long time. How can you not eat your cake if you don’t have it? Obviously, what he was saying was if you eat your cake then you don’t have it.

I finally got it...I think.

But still...27 years. A lot can happen in that period of time and a lot has happened.

I’d like to think he’d be proud of me, maybe once again call me “Pedro Padoodle” or “Ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, ol’ sockle, ol’ topple,” phrases whose origins I’m not really sure of but which I remember. I’d like to hear his ear-splitting whistle once again, the one that was unmistakable, that was a call home no matter if we were up to bat in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count.

And when I think of him, I miss him.

Did I mention that?

Although the calendar hasn’t gotten the memo, we’re into the fall season. And the leaves are starting to do that to remind us of the obvious truth. Whatever season of life you’re in, make the most of the days with the folks you love the most.


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