Four packs of Topps baseball cards rest in my pocket. I just bought them from the drugstore in the small shopping center on York Road. A little farther now and I’ll be home, ready to unwrap my treasure.
Got ‘em … got ‘em … need ‘em. A modest success overall. Too many doubles, but I did get Tony Taylor. I remove the planks of bubble gum from each sticky wrapper, jam them in my mouth, and chew, knowing that a fresh wad is unlikely. How long did the gum sit in the pack? Months, probably.
I am ten and indestructible. Girls are still aliens, and pick up baseball, football, or basketball games are my method of social interaction. I live in a heavily Catholic neighborhood, which guarantees lots of kids my age, also itching to get out of their house and play. It was so simple.
As I’ve aged, and life gets more complicated, I ignore the advancement of my internal clock and discard the reality of illness or even death. I glance at the obits once in a while, and am still surprised when someone my age has passed. How is this possible? It can’t happen to me. I’m Tommy, on his bike and hoping for a Roberto Clemente card.
My sister, Irene, passed this year. Besides the sadness of losing her, I realize she was the last member of my original family to go. My link to a simpler past is broken and I’m floating through the unknown. I’ll be seventy soon, and my thoughts of riding my bike as a kid no longer comfort me.
While I stay occupied with my writing, there’s still a feeling that someone in the heavens is leafing through an eternal calendar and searching for my appointment date.
How do I reconnect the tether and keep the orbital station of life from pulling away as I hang on? I’m guessing it’s my current family and especially my granddaughter who thinks I’m larger than life.
Someday soon, she’ll be riding her bike up a different hill, happy and indestructible. Grandpa will be there, smiling, and ready to pick her up if she falls. I accept this role as my new reality, and hope Lydia will remember and cherish Grandpa when he has floated away.