Friday, February 14, 2014

About Time

It's Valentine's Day. After giving Eric a present of candy and a movie, I prepared him Belgian waffles and festively dressed them up with a little whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate chips. A snowstorm gave us the day off from school and so in the afternoon we sat down to watch the movie I'd bought, About Time. In the film, the main character has the ability to travel back in time, to make different decisions or to redo a moment. I've always been a sucker for movies with a time-traveling plot device and had heard some excellent reviews. Without giving too much of the movie away, because I, too, highly recommend it to everyone, I will share that the film presents the secret formula for happiness: "Part one of the two part plan (is to) just get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like anyone else. But...part two is to live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing". Of course, none of us have that time traveling ability and therefore we must learn instead, "to live every day as if (we) deliberately came back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of (our) extraordinary, ordinary (lives)". 

The movie was witty, charming, and incredibly sweet, so sweet that my eyes were full of tears by the end. It's a movie with depth that tugs at one's heart. It is also a movie that makes you want a second chance to go back to particular days in the past. If I had this power, I'd choose the days of last year's February vacation.

Once out for school vacation in February of  2013, we traveled to Millinocket to visit with my Mom and Dad. We shared laughs and silliness and had serious discussions, one I remember was about why I should get a Subaru the next time around. I had told Dad of once again needing to call for a tow truck to pull me out of my troublesome curvy and slippery snowy driveway. It'd happened several times over the past few years. I also told Dad all about the trip I'd taken with Emma, her first flight ever and her audition at the college "down south". He teased Emma about what might happen if she moved "so far away", but he was serious too, stressing that where children begin their lives might be where they end up, and pushing forward the point that we as parents will want to continue being in our childrens' lives. Over a few days' time we hung out, continuing to talk, taking a few pictures, and enjoying paninis. Oh how he loved those paninis! I'd gotten a grill for Christmas and had brought it to Millinocket to use with Dad. He talked about the "warm crusty sandwiches" for months after that visit, and bought himself a panini press at the local thrift store the second he found one there. 

One night during our visit that week, in the midst of a snowstorm, Eric and I walked to the store a few streets away to buy milk. I remember feeling it was a beautiful night. As we returned and approached my Mom and Dad's house, with its lights shining through the windows, I felt at peace. I can still remember walking in the front door, shaking off the snow from my parka, kicking off my boots and setting them near the front door before I climbed up the stairs to the living room, yelling, "We're back!" so Mom would know we'd come in, hearing Dad exclaim about the snow. When it was time to head back to our home four hours away, I remember giving both Mom and Dad each a hug goodbye. And once again, getting teary-eyed as we pulled away. Oh how I wish I could go back, just for a little more time. 

It's been a year since I last saw my Dad. There. I said it. It's not easy for me to say. I have regret that I did not see him in March or in April, May, or June. I was working full time. The kids were busy with their activities. Emma had many senior year obligations. I had gotten the lead in a local theater production and Emma too was involved, playing the part of my daughter in the show. With her heading to college, it would be the last chance we'd have to be on stage together. I wondered if Dad would make it down to see the show. I hoped someone would stay with Mom and allow him to come for either Emma's high school graduation or for our production, both happening in June. Dad and I did talk on the phone. I made a special point of calling him on the morning of Emma's graduation brunch, telling him how I'd called so he'd be a part of her day, and as always, I told him I loved him before I passed the phone over to Emma. I stayed in the room to listen in and to watch Emma's sweet face as she shared her excitement with her grandfather. A few days later, Dad passed away from a heart attack. I never had the chance to say goodbye. I felt cheated. I was just three weeks from being with him again. 

So, on this first day of our 2014 February vacation, Eric and I watched that tender movie, and biting my lip as the main character returned to the past to visit his father, I had the chance to fantasize about returning to visit my Dad. I once again acknowledged my often too present concern that time is continuously passing me by so quickly. I am full of beautiful memories but my Dad is now gone, my Mom has Alzheimer's, my two daughters are in college, my baby is 14 years old, just four years from having his own college plans mapped out, and Eric and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. And in just a couple of hours, this beautiful movie had come to an end. But hey, that's life. "We're all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride".

I promise you. I'm doing my best, my very best. I don't have the ability to go back in time and I think that's probably the way it should be. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, so I'm living each day deliberately, taking it all in. Everything ordinary is extraordinary. And I don't want to miss a thing. Isn't it about time we all live this way?

How sweet the world can be.

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