How Do We Break The Rules- Your Most Valuable Possession

Matador et taureau

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”- Thomas Edison

Thursday night has arrived and I am staring at the picture of the bull and thinking about how I feel like him. Thinking about how there have been moments where I have been stabbed, beaten and bludgeoned to the point where I wondered how I kept my feet.

Mom has always said I have a high threshold for pain and dad says that I need to remember that brute strength won’t carry us through everything.

Picked up the phone to call my grandfather and shoot the shit with him and remembered he is gone. Laughed out loud, a bemused expression on my face and thought again about how very much I would like to speak with both my grandfathers because I know they would understand this moment and that something they would say would resonate with me.

And Then I Heard Them

And then I heard their voices. Don’t care if it is woo woo stuff, real or imagined. Don’t care if it was only my mind playing tricks on me because I felt them here, heard them and that made me smile.

Thought about those moments from two years ago that I wrote about below and smiled again. Thought about my kids, nephews and niece and how they think I know so much and laughed. Laughed because I know everything and I know nothing.

Smiled because I had a debate with a child today. Smiled because I might have have been as pompous and dumb when I was her age and would have been equally offended if that had been pointed out to me.

Closed my eyes and invited the grandfathers to stick around for a while. If I were back in LA I would go visit them, would stand graveside and just listen.


I am most certainly not the little boy they once played with nor am I the man they last saw. Time, life and experiences have changed me and I once was is not who I am today.

Don’t know if that is a good or bad thing, it just is. It is just part of life. We do and we live.

Told my kids to pay attention to what happens around them because these moments that we sometimes think of as being little or inconsequential are often the big ones. They are the little things that we miss.

Twilight makes me smile because I feel like I can see into different worlds and different possibilities.

Time to say goodbye to today and prepare to say hello to tomorrow. I don’t just hear the echoes of the future anymore because I have begun to live them.

The Most Valuable Possession

It is Friday night of the weekend of my sister’s wedding and my parents are hosting Shabbos dinner for friends and family from out of town. Dessert has been served and the kids are running around with their cousins while the grownups drink coffee and talk. I am standing outside on the terrace staring at streaks of orange and red and thinking about my grandfather. It is only a week since he died and his absence is palpable.

The painted sky is simply beautiful and I can’t help but think about how this is one of those moments where all of my grandparents would have told me to try and burn all I see and feel into memory. It makes complete sense to me to do so. In so many ways memory is the most valuable possession that we own. Sometimes it is the most painful but I try to focus on the positive and think of it as being the most precious, most beautiful and most valuable.

Midway through my musings I have this bizarre thought that 25 miles north of me my grandfather lies in a box that is buried beneath a mound of dirt. He was claustrophobic and for a long time very unhappy about the idea of being placed inside the casket. Long ago I promised him that if he knocked on the casket I would stop everything and pull him out. I remember telling him that there were better ways to get attention than to be buried alive and he told me to stop being a smartass, but the smile on his face made it clear that he appreciated it.

The day of the funeral I made a point of bending over to whisper, “grandpa, this is it. Knock three times on the ceiling and I’ll get you out of there.”  If you haven’t noticed I have a dark sense of humor but he appreciated it and that is all that matters. He didn’t knock and so we carried him over to his body’s final destination and I watched as he was lowered into it. I suppose that it is important to clarify that I wasn’t the person who verified that he was inside- but  I have to believe that no errors were made.

However I can verify that the rabbi and I made sure that the entire casket was covered in dirt.  My sunglasses hid the look in my eyes as my shovel rained dirt down upon him. It is not the first time that I have helped to bury a loved one and it probably won’t be the last. Some people don’t like it but I take it seriously. It is one of the last courtesies that we can extend to those who wander off into whatever lies beyond the pale.

Saturday night there was another family function and I found myself standing in front of the home I grew up in with my kids, cousins, nieces and nephews. We tossed around a football and I watched boys who used to be babies turn into almost pre-teens before my eyes and thought about how much has happened. Close your eyes and life has a way of getting away from you.

It reminded me of people long gone and some just removed from my life who spoke about potential and living up to it. That is something that I sometimes find troubling…potential. Or maybe it is more appropriate to say that I find unfulfilled potential to be troubling. It sometimes eats away at me and I get lost in the land of what could have been and perhaps what could be. It is a line of thought that I try not to get caught up in as it is not real productive to dig at the wounds of what I wish could have been. I don’t have many regrets, but those that I do are…painful.

That is not the sort of possession that I am real fond of, but I suppose they help to make me who I am. From a different perspective we could say that they help to make me who I am going to be. Yep, I said going to be because who I am today is not who I am going to be tomorrow. That is not supposed to be some sort of goofy philosophical comment but acknowledgement that what is happening today is having a significant impact upon me now.

I wonder what sort of possessions this experience will leave me with.

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  1. Betsy Cross August 23, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I hope they made you laugh, or feel comforted, or both (your gfathers). It’s not “woo woo” at all. They’re always there. We just don’t always listen. Just like when we’re kids, growing up, “laughing because we know everything, but we know nothing.”
    Good stuff.

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