It’s amazing when reality comes home and you can answer the door and have a long talk. After raising daughters and living vicariously through several generations both young and old, the value of time and memory recently came full circle, and I found myself holding that infamous cigar.
Life as I was raised to live and love was a series of moments, not unlike antiquated photo albums that could be shared and held close, long after their ending. Looking back at family and friends chuckling and crying over things they had done with me, to me and usually for me always gave reality a brighter focus. However, as the years continued, life changed the need for these memories; maybe because we’re too busy rushing along to our final destination. Memories, just as those who love them are becoming obsolete.
At first I thought it was just me, having one of those pre-AARP moments where I ponder the what if, why didn’t it, I’m glad I was there series of quantum leaps. However, the more I stood back watching those around me, I saw it really was more than a leap to see this evolution to the inevitable, which was tangible and happening every second of everyday.
Anymore memories are attached to crowd pleasing movie quotes, song lyrics or an occasional road trip on the travel channel having just as much substance. Real ones however, have doilies, black and white photographs and crayon drawn artwork and are sadly fading both physically and emotionally from life, leaving gatekeepers like me in unwanted unemployment lines. Who knew after collecting and sharing life there would be no place for it, that life would become nothing more than the sum total of hours each day, going up into smoke when the clock hits midnight, ready to begin again. Life truly has become just what it is and nothing more, albeit a big something less. Ashtray in hand (yes ceramic by the way and circa 1956), I look at this cigar burning at both ends and sigh.
As I move through each day with its series of unconnected moments and hours, I still find myself picking up pieces and slipping them into my pocket for a rainy day as I always have. I guess hope springs eternal even if our history won’t be. Smart phones have become the keepers of our lives with text, messages and photos. They are quick to the draw, produced in every conversation to illustrate a comment, and then just quickly put away or deleted. There isn’t a need any more for the photos, school celebrations, birthday or wedding souvenirs, which to some collected more dust than attention, and certainly there is no time to look at them either. It makes me sad wondering what my grandchildren will remember from life, and even sadder what they will learn from it as they grow into the next generation.
Yes, as I get up each day it is clear that it is just that, another day to breathe, eat and live with maybe an enjoyable moment or two soon to be quickly forgotten. We used to talk about only children and single people, now however; we are nothing more than individuals who connect, hoping to enjoy what they can in the moment. What has been scraped is so much more than a book, and although the colors are vivid on that expensive 64 gigabyte Smartphone, they are nevertheless fading from our connections.
Maybe I am the last of my kind, a dinosaur who remembers what a box lunch, ice cream social, lead paint on a swing set and riding a bike past dark in safety were all about. Laughing to myself I play back a colorful montage of Lawrence Welk, The Gong Show and Dark Shadows when it wasn’t a comedy, and I find comfort. There are stacks of school papers and projects the little hands I gave life to created in pride boxed in my basement, and on my fridge I display new ones from a granddaughter and they all mean the world to me. I think of myself now as an only mom, a single person who exists in an old house. However, at least I know I lived and it was more than a passing moment in time, and I have the artifacts to prove it, even if I am the only one who cares to open the box.