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Life in the slow lane

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So, it’s Thanksgiving day, and I’m at my grandaughter’s place, settling down to dig into my full plate of turkey and all the trimmings, patiently explaining to an outside guest why a woman my age decided to get 2 tattoos over the past 7 years. When my oldest son off-handedly referred to me as the family matriarch, I almost choked on my sweet potatoes. Matriarch. The word sounded so sedate and sedentary, but as I looked around the gathering at my 3 sons, 2 daughters, 8 grand children and 3 great grandchildren, figures of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors, milling around the rooms, I was suddenly struck by the idea that if it wasn’t for me none of them would be here. Mommy/Nana was, indeed, a matriarch. Another identity in the characters I have been cast as over the years. Years that have culminated in my present state of avoiding the future, looking backward instead of forward, caught up in nostalgia, contemplating this thing called “life” and the thing called “time” that is such an integral part of it.

I ponder about the brain perk that makes long-ago occurrences seem like they just happened yesterday, how the weeks fly by and how memories can be triggered by a song, or a fragrance or a familiar sight.

Lately I keep thinking about my freshmen year at college, as reports of the deaths of so many of my school mates keep reaching me. And when Illinois completed its football season this year without winning one single game, I keep recalling how different things were 60 years ago when the U. of I. dominated the Big10, making history by taking first place in every major sport from football to fencing, a feat still touted by alumni from that era. Better scenarios cheer me as my old high school has maintained its winning tradition while turning out NBA stars like Doc Rivers and Michael Finley and Shannon Brown, players I remember as little boys in grade school.

Family get-togethers are always an occasion to fondly recall loved ones who have passed on as in, yet another mystery, they seem to be present in spirit as though their essences are able to shift between parallel dimensions.

What captivates me most, however, is how vivid the imagination can be, how easily the past can become a movie scene played on the screen of my mind’s eye. But what a downer it is when I am constantly reminded that although I am the same person I’ve always been, my body didn’t get the memo, a reality that calls up the relationship between time and change. Does time really exist or is it an illusion abetted by change? Is the past still there or does it disappear as soon as the present defers to the future. What is truth? Is it contained in the words of Edgar Allen Poe who declared “all that we see or seem is just a dream within a dream…” or in the musing of Langston Hughes who opines that “It is wise to suffer illusion…Delusion…Even dreams…To believe that in this life…What is real…May also be what it seems. What is not true…May be…For you…

Language in its inadequacy can only attempt to explain what is what it is.

And so it goes. :huh:

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