What would you change?

I’m reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 which, in case you’re living under a rock and haven’t heard, is about a guy who goes back in time and attempts to prevent the assassination of JFK.

King presents Kennedy’s assassination as a watershed moment in history, and I don’t disagree with that argument.  I’d say 9/11 would be another one.

So, my question is, if you could somehow go back and prevent anything, what would it be?

For me, there’s the big ones, JFK and 9/11 of course.

I don’t know how Stephen King has plotted it out, but for JFK, I’d point out that I saw some suspicious-looking dude go into the library with a big gun.  Oh, and you may wanna check that grassy knoll over there while you’re at it.

As for 9/11, I’d probably just call in a whack of bomb threats.  One to each of the Trade Center buildings and the specific flights as well.  Though I think it would likely just delay the event, not kill it.

I’d like to go back and fix the voting debacle of 2000 that led to George W getting into office.  Don’t know how I’d fix that one…maybe take some of his future speeches on video…no…on second thought, Americans voted him in a second time, so that wouldn’t work.

Try and save those people on the Shuttle disasters.

I’d stop the Martin Luther King assassination.

Could I do something about Korea and Vietnam?  I’d try.

I’d try and take out Hitler before he became powerful.  Maybe get him into art college and let him spout his crap to fellow students, instead of the world.

I’d go back and kick Mark David Chapman right in the balls a few minutes before John Lennon came home.  Really hard.  That one I’d truly enjoy.

I don’t know how much I could change, but there’s a few people I’d really like to have some conversations with them.  And there’s some people I’d talk to a lot less.  And others I’d have stronger conversations much sooner.

For example, I’d go back and try and talk to my father before he gave up on life.  Hell, I’d probably go back at several points in his life and ask him what the hell he was thinking.  Then again, I could do that with quite a few people.

I’d probably do the same with my sister.  Or maybe I’d just find the guy who would eventually ask her out, then marry her and, before he could cause all that damage, I’d kick him in the balls too.  Even harder than Chapman.  And I’d enjoy that one too.  Hell, if I see Brian today, I’d probably do that.

I’d have a long talk with my step-father a few days before Christmas 1980 about the massive mistake he was going to make on Christmas day.  I’d try and fix that whole thing.  Maybe my mom’s marriage wouldn’t have gone so spectacularly off the rails in the span of a few hours.

There’s likely a few more things that I’m just too tired to think of, but there’s one more that I’d do.  This one would, pardon the pun, take some time, but it would be worth it.

I’d write up a list of people and timeframes.  I’d hand-write it so it would be recognizable as me.  And I’d document who to listen to, who to stay away from, and why.  Who to trust, who not to, and why.  But mostly, I’d explain to the skinny, shy, lonely, insecure kid that things would work out.  That, as shitty as life sometimes got, as hard as many situations seemed to be to deal with, as cruel as some people could be, that it would be okay.  I’d explain to that kid that things would get better and that, even though he would always take the long way around to finding his path, and would second-guess himself a lot along the way, that things would work out.  That life, while not perfect, would be pretty damn good.

And then I’d go give that written document to myself when I was about seven years old.

And one last thing…I’d tell him  to never play baseball with Jimmy Baldwin on a Sunday.  Especially when he was ten years old.

That’s gonna save him a whole lotta dentist trips.

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It’s Almost Midnight

I should be sleeping.

It’s 11:39 p.m. as I start this blog, and I’m going to need to get up in two hours and then again four hours after that.

I should be sleeping.

Instead, here I am, writing, because I can’t shut off my mind.

Upstairs, my mother lies in our bed.  Earlier this evening, she tripped over the entrance to her home and went down hard on her right shoulder.  She snapped the bone about three inches down from her shoulder.  Apparently the bone then slid under, then up into her armpit.  I can’t imagine how painful that must have been.

She’s 84.

And now, she’s staying with us.  And I worry, because both I and my wife work full time.  Neither of us will be able to adequately look after her.  She’s a stubborn woman and she won’t slow down for this, even though she’s been told to basically not move it for at least a week.  How do I know?  Because mere minutes after being told that, she was trying to get back to her house to get a bunch of stuff.  She’s not going to stay still.  It’s not in her nature.

So, instead of sleeping, I worry.

And I wonder why, after she fell, she called a few people, including me.  I live a solid half hour’s drive away from her.  It never occured to her to call 911.  My wife had to from another line while I stayed on the phone with her, trying to get her to not worry about dinner being ruined in the oven, or the friend she had coming over, or one of several other things.  Why would she call around instead of calling 911?

And that gets me worrying even more.

I worry about the thing that all children worry about.  What happens if my parents can no longer look after themselves?

I worry about the thing that all parents worry about.  What happens if I can no longer look after myself one day?

I don’t ever want to be a burden to my kids.  I don’t ever want to be that old person that only talks of how sick their friends are, or how many of their friends have died.  I don’t want to be that old person that no one wants to listen to, because all their conversations revolve around aches, pains, sickness and death.  I don’t want those things to encompass my world.  I don’t want them to define me.

My mother is doing well for her age.  Overall, she’s very healthy, her mind is quite clear and she’s extremely independent and self-sufficient.

But when things like this happen, you see a different side of your parents.  As a child, I’m used to needing my parent, not the other way around, and, though I’m 48 and should have wrapped my head around this a long time ago, I have not yet.  I’ve been lucky.  My mother’s been lucky.

Sooner or later, however, that luck runs out.  For all of us.

Funny how, just this morning, I was looking at all the good that we can learn from those who came before us.  And now, here I am in another mindset altogether, wondering how long it will take before I become more of a burden than a benefit to my own kids.

I’m sure my mother’s going to be fine, and this is simply the initial shock of the injury, the concern at seeing her in pain, seeing the exhaustion in my wife’s face from being that strong one for the past several hours.  Still, I can’t help, when I look in my mother’s face tonight, to feel my own mortality.

I can’t help but realize that young, immortal man that I was, seemingly so little time ago, is now past middle age.  I’m realizing, with the passing of my uncle, with my mom’s injury, that I’m not immortal.  I never was.

I said this morning that it’s times like this when it’s easy to question why we put so much effort in for so little reward.  I guess, the other side of that is, I don’t want to be the one that’s causing a lot of effort and not rewarding it somehow for my kids, for my loved ones.  One of my cousin’s commented on my last blog, saying they wished they could be 10 years old again, because life was so much less complicated.

Tonight, I couldn’t agree with her more.  Tonight, I would take 10 years old.  Tonight, I would take uncomplicated…

It’s midnight now.  And it strikes me how bleak the world can seem in the middle of the night when there’s no one around to tell you different.

I’m sure I’ll be much better in the morning.  I’ll have had time to regroup, to plan things out.

But right now, morning seems a long way off.

I should be sleeping.

Instead, I worry.