Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All The Things He Will Never Get To Be

It's a somber day as it is, this one.

It's cloudy and dreary here, the sun hasn't come out yet.

Normally, I love the rain and welcome it whenever it comes. Today it just seems like it was supposed to be here.

It rained the day of my uncle's funeral.

It rained the day of my father's too.

They say it never rains in Southern California.  Oh, but it does when it's supposed to.

After I dropped off all the kids and the carpool had completed the last lap of the morning, I found myself with a little bit of time to burn. Normally it's not raining here, so normally, I find a bench in a park or near the river when I get little bits of time to myself.

Today, that wasn't going to work.

I ended up going to McDonald's of all places for a coffee. Pulling into the parking lot, I knew why I was there, but I went in anyway. I took my book, telling myself that I would be able to read a few chapters while I waited. The car drove itself there, I'll swear to it.

I found a small table and sat down. Took the lid off the coffee and opened my book. Trying so hard to plunge into my fantasy world, I couldn't.

I couldn't because I was completely surrounded by them.

By the things he will never get to be.

Every table, every booth in the place, occupied by little old men. We joke that it's like a convention every weekday morning in there, because it is. They come in groups, they come alone. They don't come for a few weeks and the others notice. They sit and they sip their senior coffees for hours and hours.

They tell stories about the wives they've lost.

They tell stories about their grandchildren.

They tell stories about the jobs they used to have.

They tell stories about being in the service, the places they've been, the things they've seen.

Five days a week, they do this.

I sat, alone on this bizarre geriatric island, suddenly overcome with emotion. I was fighting back tears and I immediately knew why.

My dad will never get to be one of these men.

He will never be old.

He will never be widowed.

He will never crave the hours of time with the only people who really understand him.

He will never tell the same stories over and over again.

He will never walk past a lonely girl in a sea of gray and smile.

This is just one of the things he will never get to be.

And it's not fair.

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