I wrote this short piece a couple of days after Christmas a few years ago. Recently I ran across a notepad from an International Film Festival I cannot remember, where I’d scribbled these thoughts. I decided to share them …
I pull the fringed moose throw Nikki made me for Christmas a year ago (or was it two) down around my lap. It’s time to put it away for another year, and yet it seems only yesterday I got it out and positioned it neatly on the back of the blue recliner. When I did so, it felt as if the Christmas season would last forever, though of course I knew it would not. Do others have this same denial of the inevitable as I? When I was a child and Meme (pronounced the way people now pronounce Mimi) was old—very old, she seemed to me, though she was younger than I am now—it seemed impossible that I should not be always a child and she always alive and with me.
Perhaps it is this denial that makes the relentless march of time across our days bearable. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see the fine cross-hatch of lines beneath my eyes and think, can this really be me? Am I not still the little blond-haired girl whose grandparents doted on her so? Even when I face the reality that indeed this graying, not so firm body belongs to me, I find it difficult to believe that I won’t remain frozen at this particular stage of aging, that either I’ll die or else continue to grow older, flabbier, grayer, more forgetful. It’s too painful to face and so, more often than not, I reject the truth in favor of the more palatable illusion of timelessness. Reading C. S. Lewis, I came across a reference to the idea that a thousand years are like an hour to God. And the converse. And so they will be to us. Someday. I hope.
Inimitable. This is the word that comes to mind, and I’m not sure I know what it means. I want to use it to describe the march of time, and when I’m feeling sufficiently energetic to retrieve a dictionary, I’ll look it up. Perhaps I’m thinking “inimical,” though I’m pretty sure that word has a much more negative connotation than I want to give in to. Ah, now I’ve located a thesaurus. Inimical means unwelcoming, cold, ill-disposed. Inimitable means unique, matchless, incomparable. I suppose it’s neither or both, depending on one’s frame of mind.
As always, pouring out my thoughts on paper (or screen) makes them feel less bleak. I did this after Meme passed away, when I could hardly think of her name without tears blurring my eyes. Even now, all these years later, the tears will come. Nonetheless, today I’ll choose inimitable to describe the march of time, as I know she’d have wanted me to do.
On a lighter note, I can see myself becoming (or am I already?) one of those older women in my family who embarrassed me as a kid by asking questions of shoppers that were intended for store employees. It seems harder and harder these days to tell the difference, or perhaps I just don’t care as much as I once did about the proprieties. Whereas once it felt humiliating to be laughed at, now a good laugh is appreciated, even when it comes at my own expense. My mom, who has her share of faults, has always been a great one to laugh at her own foolishness. I admire this quality more and more as I become increasingly foolish, or merely more aware of the foolishness that’s always been there.