I read this piece on NYT this morning and thought it was a fun but important story to share… As you know, I love these little mechanical pieces which are put together in what can only be described as an art-form… to serve a sole purpose: tell us the time. Not only that, but to make us aware of time that has passed… as I type this, I hear a clock ticking in the background, as the seconds of life pass by, it is humbling to know that at some point, for each and every one of us, the clock will stop ticking.
Just take a moment and enjoy it!
I can’t predict what’s waiting for us, lurking on the other side of our late middle age, but I know it can’t be good.
The night before his ninety-fifth-birthday party, my father fell while turning around in his kitchen. My sister Lisa and her husband, Bob, dropped by hours later to hook up his new TV and discovered him on the floor, disoriented and in pain. He fell again after they righted him, so an ambulance was called. At the hospital, they met up with our sister Gretchen, and with Amy, who’d just flown in from New York to attend the party, which was now cancelled. “It was really weird,” she said when we spoke on the phone the following morning. “Dad thought Lisa was Mom, and when the doctor asked him where he was he answered, ‘Syracuse’—where he went to college. Then he got mad and said, ‘You’re sure asking a lot of questions.’ As if that’s not normal for a doctor. I think he thought this was just some guy he was talking to.”
Fortunately, he was lucid again by the following afternoon. That was the hard part for everyone—seeing him so confused.
On the night that my father fell, I was in Princeton, the fourth of eighty cities I would be travelling to for work. On the morning he was moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center, I was on my way to Ann Arbor. Over the next week, he had a few little strokes, the sort people don’t notice right away. One affected his peripheral vision, and another his short-term memory. He’d wanted to return home after leaving rehab, but by this point there was no way he could continue to live alone. I wrote him a letter, saying, in part, “It isn’t safe for you at the house anymore, at least not on your own, and this concerns me. I need you to live long enough to see Donald Trump impeached.”
We’d fought bitterly after the election, and I knew it would be just my luck: my father would die, and the very next day the President would go down, denying me a well-deserved opportunity to gloat.
I’m not sure where I was when my father moved into his retirement home. Springmoor, it’s called. I saw it, finally, four months after his fall, when Hugh and I flew to North Carolina. It was early August, and we arrived to find him in an easy chair, blood flowing from his ear at what seemed to me like a pretty alarming rate. It looked fake, like beet juice, and was being dabbed at by a nurse’s assistant. “Oh, hello,” my father said, his voice soft and weary-sounding.
I thought he didn’t know who I was, but then he added my name and held out his hand. “David.” He looked behind me. “Hugh.” Someone had wrapped his head with gauze, and when he leaned back he resembled the late English poet Edith Sitwell, very distinguished-looking, almost imperious. His eyebrows were thin and barely perceptible. It was the same with his lashes. I guess that, like the hairs on his arms and legs, they just got tired of holding on.
“So what happened?” I asked, though I already knew. Lisa had told me that morning on the phone that his grandfather clock had fallen on him. It was made of walnut and bronze and had an abstract human face on it, surrounded by numbers that were tilted at odd angles. My mother always referred to it as Mr. Creech, after the artist who made it, but my dad calls it Father Time.
I’d said to Hugh after hanging up with Lisa, “When you’re ninety-five, and Father Time literally knocks you to the ground, don’t you think he’s maybe trying to tell you something?”
Original post can be viewed here.