On Palm Pilots, Pops and the Impossible Space Between
May 18, 2018
It’s Friday morning here. You’ve just left with your mom to go to see the doctor and I wanted to steal away a few moments to share a little memory with you on this day.
I was up at 3am finishing something for work and as I sent off the last bit of it, remembered that today is May 18th, the day your Grandpa David passed away. As the clock turned over to 4am, I remembered that shriek call that woke me from Grandma Patsy that something happened and I needed to get to the hospital. I’ll save that story for next year, I’m not ready to talk more about it today.
Today, I’d like to tell you about the last time I saw your grandpa alive. It was the Friday before, May 12th. Your Uncle Dave and I went to visit Pops in the hospital. He had returned from visiting Uncle Basil in Florida and took ill, having to go straight to the hospital. Uncle Dave and I were about to go on a short trip, but before we left we stopped by Einstein Hospital in the Bronx to see Pops.
I remember him so vividly that day, but every day and year that passes, my memory fades a little more and I want to make sure not to lose it, so I leave it here for us both today.
Though he was sick, he still seemed full of energy and life. He walked around the room, wearing his blue shorts and nothing else. His big, hardened belly sticking out as we all knew it too well. We sat there talking for a couple of hours about everything and anything — an odd thing since we rarely had a conversation that long.
I remember, I was on the verge of proposing to my girlfriend at the time and Pops challenged me if I was making the right decision. In his usual way, he snarked “I don’t want to spend $100K on a wedding only for you to break up.” I retrospect, I think how interesting it was for him to make that comment. Pops and I didn’t have the kind of conversations that I hope we’ll have some day. They were short and transactional, for the most part. Equal parts frustration and disappointment, from both sides, I regret. But he obviously knew that I had my own reservations and qualms and he raised them in the best way he knew.
Our conversation wandered. I remember at one point pulling out my Palm Pilot V, the latest in personal digital assistants (google it). I showed him some of the features and explained why I liked it. I could tell he did his best to keep up, but Pops was old school and never needed these things. He could remember anyone’s name and phone number, no matter how long ago he had seen them. But his eyes danced along for my benefit, I can tell.
That Palm Pilot represented a lot more to us than it seemed, of course. It was this perfect talisman of how far apart we were — him analog, me digital. While I never suspected I could be much like Pops (time proves all children wrong), I was sure he would never be much like me. I’ll never know the answer to that, sadly, because in 6 days he would be gone.
As 4:30am passed here, you woke and sat up in your crib. Your milk had spilled and you were uncomfortable. Maybe it was a sign.
I think back to the last picture of Pops I have was him pouring a cup of tea (with milk, always with milk). He took a swig, his belly expanding with his breath. He gulped it down, gave a slight hiccup of air, and looked at across at his 2 sons for the last time.
You don’t know your size, until you stand before it. You don’t fear your shadow when the sun shines down upon your face. You don’t get forever, you get right now.
I think back to the last picture of Pops. I love it like I love you, right now and forever — whichever comes last.