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  • Felice Cohen

Time Flies When You’re Flying

Ever since college I’ve lived by the credo, “Own lots of underwear. Do laundry less often.” It’s not that washing the laundry takes a lot of time, but if I’m going to spend the time doing it, I try to use that time efficiently.  


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Papa winning a hand at poker.


I spent last week with my grandfather in Florida and we quickly fell into a daily routine. Over breakfast, which always included prunes, “Keeps you regular,” Papa said (Note: In Florida, not only is this acceptable conversation, it’s preferred), I created a To Do list for the day. Our lists included errands to Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond, plus tasks like cleaning the car, changing light bulbs, and organizing his papers. At 92, little chores have become large obstacles and I was glad to help as it takes me much less time. But sometimes my quickness was too much for Papa. “Slow down sveetheart,” he’d say. “We’ve got time. All dose years I rushed and now look. For what?”


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Laundry day


One morning he woke me, holding the laundry basket. “Come, we have a busy day.” After I insisted on carrying the overflowing basket, we headed to the laundry room, Papa shuffling behind me with his cane and the detergent. On my monthly laundry jaunts the only items I separate out are workout clothes; everything else goes in together. But Papa carefully separated towels, sheets and clothing. He’s got time now for simple tasks not only because he moves slower, but because aside from watching the stock market, playing poker twice a week, and visiting doctors, there’s no longer a reason to rush.


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Papa making the bed.


Thirty minutes later we were back in the laundry room, Papa bending over the dryer. I insisted on transferring the clothes and once he was assured I was doing it right, he went outside to take in the scenery from four stories up. I soon joined him. A warm, light breeze gently kissed our cheeks as we quietly watched the folks down by the pool, a comfortable silence between us.

Back inside his air-conditioned home, Papa sat down, tired from the short walk. Willard Scott was on the “Today Show” wishing happy birthday to folks who turned 100.

“One day that’ll be you,” I told Papa.

He sighed. “I don’t vant that. Just one more good year.”

“That’s all?” I asked.

“After dat I’ll ask for another. Don’t vant to be greedy.”

“Well, you know how fast time goes, it will be here before you know it.”

“Time goes faster de faster you rush,” Papa said. “When you do things slowly like I do now, time goes slower.” He rested his head in his hands, his eyes, tired and sad from memories that won’t, can’t go away. I turned away, my eyes brimming with tears, but he saw. “Don’t vorry, sveetheart.” Papa smiled. “I’m not going anywhere yet.”

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