On “Taking Your Time”

By | Jenna Talbott
Issue IV, September 2018

My grandfather was always a real go-getter. In his late years, I interviewed him about his life and he began with memories of being a paper boy during World War II at age 11. He remembered what year he moved and what street he lived on, each time, from his boyhood up until he and his wife built the home she would pass in at the early age of 64.  My grandmother was “the most important thing that ever happened” in his life, and he made the deliberate choice to stay loyal to her memory. Though he would never replace her, he kept on living an active life full of plans, building, managing family affairs, facilitating reunions, visiting friends, skiing, and traveling the world. He would eventually travel with the equivalent of twenty 12 packs of beer in dialysis fluids to places of familial heritage, like Hawaii. My mother would always say of her father-in-law, “You can’t keep a good man down.”

In what was to be his final year, I had a moment of solitude with him.  I remember the amount of effort he put into maneuvering over to his stereo.  His half-drooped face lit up as he enthusiastically educated me about “real” music, rummaging through and turning up his old jazz cassette tapes.  

When he made the journey back across the living room and sat next to me, I turned my body full on towards him, looked him in the eye, and asked, “How are you?”

The sincerity of the question caught him by surprise but he only paused for a short moment before answering.

“Well,” he said, in a delighted matter-of-fact manner. “Every day is a struggle.” He explained the challenges of once minor tasks, like brushing his teeth.

“So it’s that much easier to feel accomplished.”

On his death bed, he told the family who gathered to see him that it was the best time of his life.

Now if that’s not “taking your time,” I don’t know what is.


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