…..Late to the Game

  • by Maida Korte

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”  – Louis XVIII of France

          I used to be late all the time.  I am now late less and moving toward never but I can’t promise.   I come from good ‘lateness’ stock. My mother was late, my grand-mother on my mother’s side was late, my mother’s brothers were late and I am pretty sure my cousins are now infected with the lateness gene and that is why we rarely connect any more.  If you multiply late with later you get so late that you can’t ever see anyone and then it is too late.  My brothers and sisters are late unless it is something really important like surgery to which we are only sometimes late.  Come to think of it, my mother was only late when she was driving.  She would get lost driving to my Gramma’s, her mother, even though Gramma Lin lived in the same place for decades.  We never took the same route twice once arriving in some sort of encampment where no one spoke English.  The bumpy off-road that went on for miles just felt like maybe this way this time.

          Coming late to the game implies a different sort of lateness.  Late to understand a contemporary turn of phrase, late to a new fashion trend or just slow in realizing a new idea or thought.  I am late to the game much of the time lately (hah!) and have come to embrace my reaction of brow raised joy when I do ultimately arrive at the thought destination.  It is easy to handle the fashion issue.  By your 60’s you can wear anything and no one really knows if this is just dumb luck or strange confidence – this splayed look of color splashes, large belt buckles, chunky jewelry, scarves tied to any part of the body, large bags toting enormous amounts of necessary paraphernalia, earrings that tell stories and hats.  I am new to hats as my daughters have forbid me to wear them.  Think hat with thin tendrils of hair sneaking out around the edges framing the face exhausted looking for a place to go.  My sister told me to be brave and so I bought my first hat recently and I look at it shyly.  Jenny said to grab it, slam it down far on my head tucking my hair behind my ears and then go.  She said it is all in the slam – no gentle setting – wham it down – and walk briskly to the door.  I am practicing, my hat and me. 

          The thought time delay had me announce to Andy recently that I have a problem.  He said, ‘Now what?’  I plunged ahead and told him that I couldn’t remember where I put my swim suit that I needed but hid because I am embarrassed to wear it, and I can’t find the special soap I bought for the powder room that smells like a nectarine in a sudden spring shower (says so right on the label), or my jeans with the real rips not the fake rips purchased at the store, and so I think I have dementia.  Andy put his finger on the paper to mark the place where he was reading, looked up to find my eyes and told me that he couldn’t find anything either, as though my comfort would be in knowing that both of us will wander thru the house looking for obscure items together.  I could see that working though, purposeful wandering.  I reflected on this for a while and then expressed my concern about ideas and that my broad visionary inner life was going down pathways and couldn’t find their way back to the point.  You see, I am broad brush by nature.  Big ideas and big plans with smallish results but great joy in the expansive thought.  I love story-telling and my girls never want me to tell them about a movie they haven’t seen yet because they say I ruin it by making my descriptives better than the actual scene.  This is important I tell my husband.  By now he folds his paper and pats his thigh for me to come sit by him which I do.  He pulls me close and tells me that I am fine, wonderful actually and we will walk together into the depths of aging and all that comes with it.  He tells me not to be afraid which he can see I am and so this man’s mostly unexpressed inner life opens a window just enough to allow me to see his quiet strength and that he knows me.  And again, he is right, I am fine.   

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