The seasons come and go and leave remnants of us.
OLD TOM’S WORDS
I never took the walk back home alone.
Even from the first day I started mixing drinks at Tom’s, he would leave the night’s accounting to escort me.
Actually, it wasn’t inconvenient for him because I stayed only two short streets away from the bar; I guess that it really was therapeutic, for good old Tom never said much as we dragged our tired feet along – mine tired from tending his garden of bottles for the quarter of a day and his from welcoming all comers with a handshake and a fatherly inquiry into their affairs. Tom genuinely cared about us all. It seemed that this nightly walk of ours was a form of catharsis for him because he always kept the burdens of the small town on his mind. He’d walk by my side with his head bowed, and shoulders mellow, smiling and humming an old tune I would never recognize. The same tune every night.
We would avoid shallow puddles on those cold evenings and walk like father and daughter. Once or twice, he had told me about the wild days of his youth, how he met Janet, of whom he was widower-ed three years ago, how they had never had children, how life had passed so quickly. “Titi” he’d say, “It’s all gone too soon.” I would smile and squeeze his hand and he would laugh a weak one.
I only worked at Tom’s through the fall of 1996. I think I stopped mid winter because my degree eventually earned me a better paying job. most of that year remains a Gaussian blur to me but I’d never forget old Tom’s words.
I was twenty three years old, January the following year. I remember because that was the year I fell in love. The fall did not last too long and I landed on the cold hard floor; in my moments of bitter tears I remembered old Tom’s words.
Life skipped along and happy times found me and abandoned when I began to feel entitled. The pains of sorrow would eclipse the bright times and just when my breaking point was near, the sun would shine again. Friendships came and went just like love did, until I eventually found a lovely friendship. I am widowed of Joe now, a heart condition tore him away from my hold. Too soon.
My parents decided to get a divorce last year because they both decided that it would be more peaceful to die alone; they both still hope that I’d take a side. I’m too old to care.
I had my life planned in the beginning and I haven’t done bad for myself. I am not where I planned but I am in a beautiful place, beautiful because I choose to see all the good things around me. Although, I can afford a lot of the simple things I want but I don’t enjoy them as much as I thought I would, except maybe when it’s a new experience like my first full body massage at the inexplicably expensive Shirley Buddha.
I’m turning forty soon and I still have half a full life to live and to enjoy as much as I can. Sometimes I think back to those walks with old Tom and his hollow laugh brings a smile to my face. He darn sure was right, it’s all gone too soon.
So why not enjoy it while it lasts?