Heard but not heeded

September 11, 2008

No one who’s eighty says, “The years have dragged on and on. When is this thing going to finally end?”

So I wasn’t surprised to hear my father say on his eightieth birthday, “I’m amazed at how quickly it’s gone by.” But coming from your parent, it has more resonance.

I keep playing his words over in my head. Wait, that’s not true. They play on their own, and I the captive audience have no choice but to listen.

My father’s words are another reminder of the obvious core fact of our existence that we — I — egregiously ignore. How many reminders will make me take heed? The briefest and most poignant one, even out of context from the novel where it lives, wondrously, is from Charles Baxter’s The Feast of Love:

“Our time here is short.”

That’s the mantra I want to hear — and feel, over and over. And I suspect I will next week, when reunited with long-lost high school friends.