Ten Year Wake-Up Call–Or Not? (Part 2)

Last time I talked aboutSeptember 11, 2001and how ten years elapsed since the day that date gained the dubious status of “a day that will live in infamy,” much likeDecember 7, 1941.

I shared how time passes, how I barely notice and how that decade mark tends to wake me up a bit to how quickly time really flies. (Sorry folks. A cliché is cliché for a reason. It resonates.)  Of course, my topic ran away with itself, so I opted to explore a point separately. I want to talk about prioritizing and ‘making time.’

IMHO, life today is so crazy because ‘priority’ is a term that applies to pretty much everything in one’s home and work lives. My kids want me at the ready and all my schoolwork, housework and everything else needs to be done yesterday. Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point ties into when I worked at my first hospital.

By my third year there, I was a senior therapist and supervising most of the occupational therapists that treated the rehabilitation-bed patients. I worked in a teaching hospital, on a unit whose beds were being increased faster than staff was hired. One day, I went to my director one on behalf of a very burnt-out group of young women. She told me we needed to work on ‘time management.’ I very respectfully told her we’d already done that to the very limits of human capability given the workload we had. In short—and I told my director this: “We have no time left to manage.” Despite the realities, we had to get creative and learn how to ‘make’ more time in a day.

That brings me to my biggest life lesson on the subject, one I still let life get in the way of routinely, I guess. (Hey, the day-to-day gets in the way.) I had a cousin who was my mom’s godson. Every now and again we’d chat. He was always pleasant and I always enjoyed talking to him. As Italians tend to do, we visited him in his new home after he married and had his first son.

He moved to a new home. My mom kept getting on my case that we had to go see it (it’s an Italian thing and since my mother doesn’t do highways her only daughter gets assigned designated driver). Every time I ran into this cousin he too, reminded me to bring my mom over for a visit.

Never managed to scare out that time. By the ten year mark, he and his family had moved into a third home. Now my mom was really on my case to visit. So was he—as always in a fun way—when I called to give condolences after his mother-in-law passed away from cancer. His also shared that his father (my dad’s first cousin) had been diagnosed with a terminal illness as well. He hung up, laughing as he said, “I’m not talking to you anymore. It’s too depressing.”

I’m sure we had other conversations but I consider that one our  last real one.  While at a sporting tournament with his teenage son my cousin started getting terrible headaches and vomiting. A visit to the doctor led to one with an oncologist. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died nine months to the day he got diagnosed.

In ten years I never made the time to visit him in his new home.

Ten years.

That’s a huge chunk of time.

Italians are big on dovere—duty. When someone dies, you show up at that person’s family’s home in a show of sympathy and support. My cousin passed away in the early morning hours of the Tuesday following Labor Day. That night, I managed to get to his house. Amazing how I was able to make getting to his house a priority then.

And I still let life get in the way of making time for the things that really matter.

Hope you do better at that than I do.

Joanna

Ten Year Wake-Up Call–Or Not? (Part One)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope you all had a great weekend and are in place and geared up to get through another one.

Quick note before I continue: this post was originally slated to run a month or so ago. Because September wound up being a fairly busy time with school starting, I’m running this essay exactly as I wrote it and keeping the tenses to reflect my thoughts the day I jotted them down. Thank you for your patience and indulgence. 🙂

 (AP Photo/WTC Memorial Foundation, LMDC,HO)

I write this post on the tenth anniversary of the day Americans—and possibly most of the world—refer to as 9/11. For days I’ve been bombarded with pictures, news articles and television coverage of the tragedy that befellNew York City’s lower Manhattan area that morning. Over and over one thought kept crowding out all the others:

Ten years have come and gone.

Please note I speak only for myself as I share this. There’s something about that decade mark that makes me stop and note how quickly such an expanse of time elapses seemingly without notice. I don’t think I look all that different. As a whole, I don’t think I feel very different either. To date I’m blessed in pretty much any aspect of my life I can name.

Some changes I have no choice but to see: hubby’s hair was probably more pepper than salt. My son, who on the morning ofSeptember 11, 2001was attending his fourth or fifth day of preschool, presently attended his third day of high school. My other son (pushing age three on 9/11) wasn’t in school then and is now in his second year of middle school. Along the way, I’ve been married close to seventeen years. Somehow, I spent those days in relatively the same manner while years slid by. Only the annual markings of time—New Year’s, birthdays, etc—reminded me how quickly time moves.

I don’t want to be long-winded. (Yes, those who know me well are chuckling, smirking and/or rolling their eyes. Be careful: those orbs might get stuck up there. J) This morning, though, I watched some of the televised ceremonies and tributes. As I watched water flow into the footprints of theTwinTowersI was amazed that ten years passed and I’ve never once visited the site. (I live close enough that a trip into the city shouldn’t be a major affair.) Today also reminds me how annoyed at myself I was then that I’d never put my boys on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and then watch the lower end of Manhattan loom small into tall as the ferry pulled into port. (Watching the towers get taller and taller as we got closer on the ferry was always one of my favorite parts of that ride. Who would have thunk those hulking rectangles that stretched into the sky wouldn’t be there forever? At least I can see the tower lights from my house. I make sure to go outside every year and spend some time looking and reflecting.)

So much for being long-winded. I had another point to share but I’ve gone on too long here. (Besides, I thought of another take on that point and will expand on it in the next post, scheduled to run on Thursday of this week.) Thanks so much for staying with me.

Until Thursday,

Joanna