Now it’s “US”
By Bill Maranda
Used to be... It was some old guy we mostly didn’t know much about.
Sure, we met the dude once or twice. But even then, back in the college days, we certainly didn’t really know who he was.
Somebody’s old WW II Army buddy, good neighbor Sam, used to watch us kids?
Somebody’s in-law somehow, somewhere? An old maiden, my sister’s roommate’s father-in-law. Or an introvert, our ‘loner’ relative that kept to himself. Maybe even the town drunk?
Or a ‘man-about-town’, a somebody that was everybody’s buddy, a chick magnet, that cool guy, “friend of a friend of a friend”, as Sarkis would often say.
Then all of a sudden out of nowhere Babcia died. A grandma, yes, the parent of our parents. They go all the time. But this was our grandma, our Babcia!
“Idź do domu i prześpij się”.
How many times did you hear her screaming that at our dads?
Next thing you know Uncle Johnny goes. In a split second, too. Massive heart attack. Never got a penny for Social Security as he died before his eligible birthday by a week. A stinking week. Didn’t get a penny! It’s a Polish thing. You should understand.
Dad was there at the dinner table when it happened. He was right in front of him when he went down for the count. Dad said,
“John stood up, took a big gaspy beath, then keeled over. Massive heart attack, gone in a flash. Nothing you could have done would have helped him.”
Right, as it may be, we had a dry spell for well over a decade after Uncle John.
Yes, next it was Phil. Died years ago at age 44. Forty-four, think about that for a while, age 44. And, he wasn’t the only one. A bunch of other old buddies died at a way-to-young age, too. Accident? Cancer? Even a suicide, take your pick.
Yet, so easily we had chalked that up to an “oddity”, the ‘exception to the rule’ sort of rationalization.
After a while it was almost every year or two; we hear about Uncle this died, Aunt that died. Sure, they weren’t feeling well most of the time. And all those cigarettes certainly didn’t help matters any. But then it happened.
They should have taken better care of themselves, eaten more sensibly, exercised more?
Yah, right, get real! I remember they would drink coffee until midnight.
OK. So, we hit the wake for a couple of nights, catch up with the cousins, all our friends, too. Let’s go out for beers and a smoke, catch the rest of the game? There’s a bar down the street.
The next morning it’s off to the funeral home. Then, church with the Holy Man to perform the Hocous-Pocous. Nobody does it better than Father Jerry, our own, personal family Pope, robes, pointy hat and all. After Mass we’d do a ‘drive by’ throughout the old neighborhood, those fond memories of when we were all kids.
Once we get to the eternal playground an Army guy plays Taps, flowers, flags and a coffin that smells like parmesan cheese. Plant him in the ground. Adios!!
OK, now what’s for lunch? Ah, yes, the same old Polish restaurant, CBS for sure > Chicken, beef and Polish sausage, uhm, yum, yum.
An old person died. Something we all somehow come to expect sooner or later. We love’em and all, many fond memories, like now, at Christmas time.
They were in ‘that place’ for months on end. I know you know how many times we all went there to visit. Not fooling ourselves, never, not at all. It’s where one goes, … Before they REALLY GO! But who the heck wants to slowly waste away in one of those facilities? I most certainly do not want to. DO YOU?
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge and except that Jim is now gone.
But we are unquestionably happy that Jim didn’t have to suffer.
We all just to have to accept that fact. That, perhaps the only “pleasant” part of his passing. That is if “pleasant’ is the “correct” phrase?
Jimmy died, yes, he did. Gone in a flash, just like Uncle Johnny. He didn’t suffer.
But that’s not the hard part to grasp. So, I’ll be the first to say it.
Now IT’S “US”!!!
Yep. You, me, … US!
We’re at that age now. Something to look forward to, I guess.
I’ll never forget the Saturday back in 2008, when we were cleaning mom’s condo to put it up for sale. We all met there at 9 AM. We were thinking with Bob and Debby, Greg and Sharon, Jim, Mike and Bill, with two trucks and our cars surely, we’d be done by 2 or 3 that afternoon. Go home, take a nap. Watch that movie and eat a nice dinner.
No such luck.
At 5 PM we ordered pizza and picked up a case of Budweiser, as we weren’t even close to finishing. My God it took forever. So much stuff in such a tiny one-bedroom condo. We would even have to come back the next weekend, too.
While we are chowing down Debby blurts out,
“Someday it’s going to be ‘US’.
“US”, she says
“And we’ll have to do this for each other”.
Mike starts freaking out and says,
“Oh my God, I hope I die first”.
But Debby was correct and that time is NOW! Now it is us.
How could that possibly be? It was only yesterday,………………………
What do we say? Sorry Mike, you missed your turn?