In some ways, it’s hard to believe almost a year has gone by since Jim was training for Ironman Lake Tahoe. In other ways, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since he was training. Yesterday, he went back in the water for the first time since the event last September and did amazingly well. It was a beautiful morning, water calm and reflective. I had a chance to relax just a tad as I paddled along behind him on my board, kayak-style. At one point, the sun reflected off the water into the massive pines, willows, and birch along the shore, creating a show of light and motion both beautiful and hypnotizing. All too soon, a breeze picked up, shattering the reflection with tiny wind ruffles.
And the day moved on.
Time has an odd way of playing mind games–of the glass half-full, half-empty type. Many of us long for the time to do something, then when that time comes, find ways to procrastinate, then wonder where all the time has gone.
My father is 91 and we don’t know how much longer we’ll have him around. He isn’t doing well and I think he knows it, but you can’t convince him to take care of himself. He knows what’s best, even in his current state. He seems to exist in a place where time is fluid, slipping back in his own history, then sliding forward into the present. We never know what he’s going to talk about next–when he talks.
As a writer, I try to put myself in my father’s place. How does it feel to experience what he’s going through? How aware is he of the “real” world? How much time is spent in his past with friends only he knows? As a daughter, I find myself on an emotional roller coaster, working to support my sister, caregiver for both Mom and Dad, help Jim’s business where needed, and keep my own career on track. Emotions tend to act like a sinkhole as far as Time is concerned. One minute, there’s an abundance of time to complete a project. Then something happens–can be as simple as thinking about the past–and the next thing I know, all that Time has vanished.
Yes, this happens even when life isn’t on an emotional roller coaster. As the minutes, days, years tick by I find myself wanting to slow Time, to somehow anchor it tight so it doesn’t completely disappear. As I watch my father, that desire, no matter how unreasonable, intensifies. As the man who was once my anchor loses his hold on reality and gently slips away, I find myself wondering how long until I do the same?