As a nine year old kid, one of the benefits of being out of school for the summer was my being allowed to stay up until after the ten-o’clock news.
With my parents comfortably positioned in their favorite chairs, my kid sister and I wrestled for the spot on the couch closest to our old Sears Silvertone B/W TV.
One particular night the evening news reported the passing of actor Will Wright. Mom seemed kind of taken aback as she turned to Dad and sadly said, “Did you hear that?” He nodded yes. They appeared to disconnect for a moment; they stared at the TV as if they saw something I couldn’t see.
I brought them out of their fog by asking, “Who is Will Wright?” Mom told me he was an actor who’d been on The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason and a lot more. I recognized the picture of him as being the actor who always played some old guy on TV shows.
Mom and Dad’s reaction to his death surprised me. There was a sense of loss that I couldn’t understand. After-all, they didn’t know the guy personally. He wasn’t a relative. He was some character actor from TV and movies — probably just one of thousands of people who died that day.
My parents often surprised me, their world seemed so unfathomable to me at times. Once Dad and his brother George were reminiscing about something that occurred forty years ago. Forty Years! I could barely grasp the concept of my meager nine years on the planet, yet Dad and Uncle talked as if this stuff had just taken place yesterday.
Fast forward about five decades — I realize that old age has suddenly snuck-up on me. I find myself saying things like, “Oh man did you hear that Annette Funicello died?” Voluptuous Annette from the Mickey Mouse Club and Beach Blanket Bingo — the girl who almost single-handedly made young boys sit up and notice the opposite sex.
It still saddens me that Barney Fife will never again lock up Otis, the town drunk, or that “The Twilight Zone” hasn’t scared me in decades. And what the heck happened to “The Beaver” — Jerry Mathers has morphed into something that looks like an aging troll. Have you seen the actor who played Luke Skywalker lately? Wow, when did all this take place?
I didn’t think I looked old — not until I pulled out that picture of myself when I was twenty-three. Was I that good looking back then, or am I that hideous now!
Can I get a mulligan — please?
These days find me writing stories about things that happened over fifty years ago. FIFTY YEARS AGO! — !! — !!!!! — FIFTY
My defining moment came earlier this year when actor Ralph Waite, the father from “The Walton’s” died and I finally understood what my Mom and Dad were briefly staring at way back then — time — relentlessly slipping away.
Time and tide wait for no one.
As summer now turns to autumn my wife and I gaze at our granddaughters and wonder what they will be remembering in fifty years.
Having no idea, we took some advice from singer Bonnie Raitt:
“Lets give them something to talk about.”