Me: I went roller skating with my friends.
Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 60 years.
Me: Then we went to the movies.
Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 20 years.
Me: Then we had a snowball fight.
Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 50 years.
As a child, I had many such conversations with my grandfather. It seemed whatever I told him, he had not done in some amount of years which were impossible to conceive for a nine year old boy. It was as if time had frozen for him about 20 years before. To be fair to him, he did spend his days taking care of my grandmother after she had a second stroke which proved debilitating. However, I could not conceive of 20 years let alone 60 years passing.
My birthday passed earlier this week. I am at the age where the celebrations are low key except when you get to a number that ends with zero. Anyway, my memory is stretching back further and further. Recently, my mother mentioned a plate that I made in kindergarten. On the plate, I traced my hands and wrote the year – 1977. That was 35 years ago, and I remember making it and seeing it in our kitchen underneath the hanging cabinet and next to the yellow flowered shape clock. I remember going on an airplane for the first time – 31 years ago. I remember my first time driving a car myself – 25 years ago. I remember moving out of my parent’s house (for the last time) – 17 years ago. I remember when my father passed away – 15 years ago. I remember when I got married – 10 years ago. Strangely enough, there are days when I can’t remember what pre-children life was like, but that’s another story.
This summer, marks the 20th anniversary of a significant event in my life. In July of 1992, I completed college, boarded a plane, and began a string of traveling summers. For a kid who had rarely left Pennsylvania, my world truly grew. I met people who were just like me and yet so different. I saw places that before seemed to exist just in books or movies. I experienced cultures which made me curious and empowered me to both question and more appreciate my own. You could say that I found myself via my travels to the Middle East, Europe, and the West Coast of America.
So, as I blow out the birthday candles on another year, I stretch my memory a little further. I appreciate the people in my life now as well as in the past. I consider my experiences and how they have shaped me. I look forward to another year and wonder what I will take from it to share when I am the grandfather.