My daughter says I look sad but wonders why I am not crying if I really am. I tell her I just found out an old friend died and I am sad but not the kind of sad that makes me cry.
She gives me a hug and I tell her it is ok and it is.
Part of me feels badly that I don’t feel worse but I haven’t seen Lisa since I was in college, or maybe longer. I can’t say I know or knew much about her either.
Her older brother and I were friends. We met in Hebrew school when we were around six or seven, played on the same baseball team a few times and went to each other’s birthday parties.
But we probably stopped hanging out somewhere around the time we turned 14 or so. The last definite memory I have is from my Bar Mitzvah but that is probably because he is in a few pictures.
Still whenever I have thought about Lisa, Sam or their little brother Jim I picture as us being kids because we were. Â Those were days when life stretched out in front of us like some golden road with endless possibilities.
“He says, “Son can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”
Piano Man- Billy Joel”
It is funny to sit at the computer, headphones on and discover something new in Piano Man. Until this moment it was a song that I enjoyed listening to and had fun singing along with at campfires and parties but not because I related to it.
And then tonight came and I heard the lines above and they got caught in my throat.
I kid around about being an old man but I am not. I don’t feel like it at all.
Sure I don’t look like I once did and I have the mystery aches and pains we all get in our forties but I get outside and live. I am active. I have young kids and plans for a future.
Retirement may be something I think about more seriously now, it may be something I worry about because I wonder if I will ever have enough to do it but it is not retirement based upon an inability to work.
It is not because I am too feeble. The retirement I see is a choice I will make because I am ready for something else.
â€œDon’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.â€â€• Al Capone
Al doesn’t deserve to be remembered but for better or for worse he made his mark on society and so his name lives on but not for the sort of reasons I would want to be known for.
Sometimes the boys have asked me if I ever think about how I want to be remembered. Sometimes they talk about leaving a legacy and I’ll bust their chops and suggest they try not to make like Ozymandias.
“`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.”
Something about the way some people talk about legacy bothers me. It sounds like ego and fear.
That is a combination I am not a fan of.
Do I want to be remembered?
I suppose I do. I suppose I want to make a mark and to do something that makes people remember that once I walked this earth. But I don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.
Capone’s legacy holds no interest for me.
What I want is for my family to remember me. What I want is for my great-great-great grandchildren to know I was once here and that they remember me because I worked to make the world a better place.
You’re Just A Memory Now
I suppose for many of us if we are lucky that will be part of the evolution. We’ll have done whatever we did here and then we’ll die and move on to whatever comes next.
If we have lived a decent life than some people will remember us. If we have made the kind of mark that goes deeper than they won’t think of us as ‘you’re just a memory now.’
But even if they do, is that a bad thing or is that me feeling guilty that when I think about some of the people I know that have died recently I don’t have many if any recent moments to associate with them.
All I have is the you’re just a memory now and I am not quite sure what to do with it.