Our three sons are moving on with their lives. We are all here, but someday there will only be the two of us in this big house. I wonder what it will feel like? What will we talk about? What will we do? I am retired and spend most of my time waiting, which is a waste. There is a lot to do, and it’s a big world.
It is likely we will stare at each other and consider our appearance. Then we’ll remember how we looked years ago.
We will remember those who have passed—Family, friends, favorite pets.
We’ll talk about how we raised our kids. Focusing on our mistakes, forgetting what we did right.
We will remember our dreams and consider which ones came true and which ones are still out there.
We will discuss a plan to run one or two of them down as a curtain call before whatever comes next.
I sense we will spend a lot of time discussing travel. What place we want to visit next.
We won’t consider the future as time will seem short. That is what we should be doing, though. Always have space full of dreams.
We will discuss the 2020 election and how it was more of a mess than us being parents.
We will laugh at the commercials about reverse mortgages up until the point where we need one.
I sense we will watch each other and think about who is failing more. You know, having difficulty remembering things like turning off the stove.
Tag team driving will become how we get around. One watches the road while the other steers and works the gas and brakes. At some point, someone will take the keys.
We will watch the news all day.
And somewhere along the way, we will consider the past and the choices we made. We will argue about some of them and agree on some as well. It is likely I will feel sad we never bought that second home in Vermont. We will reason the timing just wasn’t right.
I expect many conversations about the trips we took with the kids, notably Alaska. How much fun we had and how beautiful it is there.
We will be alone a lot, I sense. We’ll have ample time to talk behind the backs of people we knew along the way. Our verbal filters failing, we will say things that piss off those closest to us—a favorite pastime?
And we will often sit in quiet solitude and let the voices of the past fill our heads with laughter, crying, grief, and despair. Five lives brought together through the magic of life, coincidence, and sacrifice. I hope, in the end, we will have lived full lives and recapped the whole event from childhood to adulthood in its entirety. I pray we will conclude that it was all worth it and fulfilling.
We won’t get to say goodbye—most people don’t get the chance to do that as the end often isn’t predictable. But, we will look forward to picking up the conversation in the next place.
I have thought about Grace, its meaning, examples, and how it relates to me for a couple of years. You might say I have a lot of time to think. And that I do. I make it. Time to consider is the most productive and useful part of my life. And none of us are getting any more of that.
I wanted to establish a firm understanding and definition of what Grace is. My years as a corporate executive taught me to have meaning, a process, feedback, and needs for a belief to happen. I got none of that on this one. In my desire to understand Grace, I asked around for a couple of years and got all kinds of answers. From lightning strikes to religious beliefs and intervention. I accepted none of these. It just didn’t ring my bell. I thought about going on a Thoreau like journey to Walden Pond to consider it, but I knew I wouldn’t have a place or family to return to if I did.
I read a lot, and if I had more time added to my life, that is high on my list of things I would do more.
Emily Dickinson wrote, “There is no frigate like a book.” In short, it means this:
There is no boat like a book. A book can take you anywhere.
I believe that sounds reasonable. In the past few months, I came across some things I read that started to piece together what I was looking for from my experiment with Grace.
Eckart Tolle said Grace is “acceptance of the unacceptable.” That made complete sense to me. Short and to the point and almost impossible. Just imagine for a minute how hard that is. Accepting the unacceptable, hmmm so you consume and come to terms with anything and everything that has ever happened. Be it history’s worst bad guys and their atrocities to what might happen in the future. That’s a lot to digest.
I saw another group of words put together by a friend on Facebook. She said, “tears flow down,” as she described the pain of losing a daughter. I tried to marry the two thoughts together. I was getting somewhere and nowhere at the same time. It felt like another Buddhist struggle had been leveled on my chest. It turned out to be the defining moment of the definition of Grace for me.
So tears flow down and pool on your chest and over your heart – the place where everyone’s beats, beat together. The beating to me represents “love.”
Grace is your heart and everything in it.
I look back on six decades and have a chance to think about them, to consider their significance. I often write about regrets to educate others who are younger, hoping they will avoid mine. People who say they have none haven’t lived and are full of shit.
One of my biggest regrets is keeping things too close to the vest, not sharing all I know—my writing has always been an effort to fix that.
The key is when you find something useful, to share it. Don’t leave everyone else behind. Your desire for exclusivity is your most significant and hurtful decision. Passing over those you love most or others you don’t know is the worst kind of behavior. They need you and your experiences to advance the ball.
When real-life arrives, the stuff after everything is washed away; there you are at the kitchen sink, bare assed, and as stupid as the day you were born. You will likely have a keen eye on your hopes, dreams, and experiences washing away and wondering how you could have been a better person. It’s not an idyllic place to be, but it is a place. Make the best use of it.
Vote today, or don’t complain.
My dad was an HVAC contractor and serviceman. He worked hard, whenever he was needed and in some unpleasant places. Over the years, he missed many family events fixing stuff so others could be comfortable or run their businesses. Well known in Rumson and the surrounding area, he was the last of a breed that has died off, putting the final nail in the coffin of quality.
Our garage became home to motors, pipes, copper, lead, evaporators, wires, and tons of shit that meant nothing to most people. As a kid, I was always interested in the copper barrel. It was close to the door, so I got in for a look and out the door quickly. The shop was doubly painful for me being a physically dangerous place and a mental cluster. I had no interest in learning the trade.
To me, the copper barrel contained endless stories carried from the homes and businesses they were removed from. I suspected that then and know that now. I learned anything in the copper barrel had value; it could be sold as scrap whose price changed daily. I was more interested in this than a copper pipe carrying gas to make something run.
After my parents passed, I made many trips to the scrapyard with copper, lead, and recyclable materials of many kinds to clear the property and raise money for a charity. I did that and felt good about it. I made dozens of trips to the scrapyard in Freehold and got to know the guys who worked there a little as I drove on the scale to be weighed each day.
I left behind an untold number of stories as I rolled away in the old truck one last time, having finished a job my dad started many years ago.
James Joyce’s character, My Duffy, lived a short distance from his body, I have as well. Joyce described Duffy this way. I describe myself this way. Imagine my delight in knowing this with so much more time to go. Not everyone gets this chance. A celestial lottery ticket that paid off. The payout? Contentment.
I reached a tipping point a few years ago; what I have is enough. It’s an uncelebrated milestone that should have been achieved via a different route or never have been in my sights. It separated me from everything really important, which is a major regret I have. There is a lesson here to pass on, the one gifted to me now traveling through the sewer pipes of life just hoping to be cleared in an ocean yearning to be free.
Like Irving’s Sleepy Hollow horseman being chased by his past, I was born with my head firmly on my shoulders. The pumpkin thrown at me being alcohol, cancer, and early retirement. I am so lucky and fortunate. This aging orphan is hanging around for one more pass around the sun with the hope that Penn and Teller aren’t the ones keeping the time.
Your clocks should have been set back last night.
The beautiful photo is courtesy of Jack Flaherty Photography, Monmouth Beach NJ.
Somewhere between the Navesink River and Shrewsbury River on the aptly named Avenue of Two Rivers, in a house next to the guy who would become Rumson’s police chief one day, I got my first kiss. It was an early afternoon on a school day. We were in a house that had two apartments in it. A friend of ours lived in one with her mother. Her mom was at work, and a few of us use to hang out there after school. My girlfriend and I were two of them. I got a kiss from her at this house, not the one she lived in a few doors south next to the Oceanic Free Library.
Funny, I remember that kiss. I am pushing 60 this year, and the memories are fleeting. I also recall this kind young girl being one of the easiest going people I have ever known. If something went wrong or happened unexpectedly, she simply sighed, “oh well.” That was it—no drama, ever. In a few years, she would go to college in Colorado and never return to Rumson to live.
Fast forward a few decades, and through the magic of the internet, I reconnected with the first girl who would kiss me. We found each other and exchanged emails for a couple of years, and once again, she disappeared from my radar. It was fun sharing stories, past and present. We talked about our lives, how we had grown up and now had families of our own. Here one minute and gone the next. Oh well.
Time passes, people pass too. The police chief on Ave of Two did. Next, another former chief and my mom and dad who knew them both. The street is still the street, I was on it yesterday, but everything has changed, everything!
p.s. I will be around here daily, making an end of year run with my writing. The pandemic is when I started doing this, so with its next wave, I will try to provide a laugh/tear or two for a while.
I have been writing but not quite as much as I am gearing up for the coming year-end. My plan is to blog daily from the day the clocks Fall back until New Years if you want to join the fun.
I have developed a recipe during my time off. I will share my BlackBerry Smoke Bourbon Compote when the time is right. I think I got it just about ready for prime time. The key was adding straight booze, which was made harder as a guy recovering. Turns out, Kentucky has something to offer, Bourbon. Stuff from a state where everyone is related and has six toes. Also, boys and pretty girls are both named Jed in the blue grass. Stuck between the North and South, a state without identity but was home to some Farber’s, who eventually made their way to Sea Bright. Hmmmmm. Now some stuff is starting to make sense about SB.
My health is good enough, not bad, I still struggle to figure out what retirement means and what to do with it. I have been home for four years. I guess I’m not going back. Oh well.
See ya in a couple weeks. The web address is farberisms.com or christianjfarber.com. Either will take you to the same place, my site. Bookmark it.
Every summer for as long as I can remember, there comes a soft tugging at my heart in August. It started last week and continues to get stronger as the days pass. Its a warning of sorts that the season is ending one more time. Another circle was completed from this time last year. I am one of the people who like to talk about it. When I bring it up, others agree that they feel it too. However, no one else I know ever brings it to anyone’s attention. It’s like April first being less of a fool’s day and more of a reminder that taxes are due soon.
This year has been so much different and unique. More so than any I can think of except this end of summer blues. At 59, I am on the other side of the equilibrium that living and dying provides. Every year that passes makes this both true and more true too.
A ball of confusion. The Temptations had it so right back in 1970. I read the lyrics a couple of days ago and attached a link to them here, hoping someone would agree. So right. Everything being as it is, unacceptable and unexplainable.
I remain the same: Bummed that fall is coming and summer is ending as I search for that beautiful slice of life between my love for humanity and challenging those who comprise it.
Here are the lyrics to The Temptations song “Ball of Confusion” written in 1970. Check them out.
Some of my favorite rides with my family growing up were in a big, green Buick Electra. The model covered six decades and was the pride of the corner of Blackpoint and Ave of Two in the early ’70s. The car took its rightful place in the newly adorned front driveway. I was in school at Forestdale, had my first kiss under my belt from a nice girl down the road, and consumed myself with basketball and rock n’ roll.
Like all of our cars, the Electra knew the route. If it was a Sunday afternoon, we headed to my maternal grandparents’ house. This meant a drive west on Rumson Road then south on Seven Bridges Road (which doesn’t and never had seven bridges on it). My sister and I would be sprawled out on the back seat, close enough for protection but far enough away from each other to remind ourselves we were brother and sister.
In a few years, I would break the front windshield of that car one day when I talked my mom into giving me and my surfboard a ride to the beach. I pushed a little too hard loading it, and the nose feathered a crack in the glass. I remember standing in the front yard driveway. Fear overcame me as I knew how this would go, and end. My mom must have felt particularly brave this day as I started to walk back towards the house, giving up on my surf session. She asked where I was going and I pointed to my room. She waved me back, explaining the damage was already done, and the waves were big, so let’s go surfing.
I am still not sure how she pulled that off and will never know. And that is the magic of many moms who manage to make lemonade from lemons and great waves from disaster.
A car ride always had a mystical, transference like effect on me. We took the car from the driveway on Avenue of Two Rivers. At the time, there was no driveway on Blackpoint Road. That would be a later upgrade to the 6181 square foot corner lot with a small house and garage. After my dad became more successful, we added a second and parked it off to the side in the front yard. Show-offs.
Yard parked. Our property had no front driveway in the ’60s. Over time, stones and railroad ties outlined the channel for the car. The creosote on the ties smelled for a long time after they found their way into the ground. Today, it is the first place to park, provided you have a nice car. Oh, so Rumson.
The east end of Blackpoint Road was the most beautiful part of the street and still is. In that way, it is similar to the south end of Avenue of Two Rivers. Lovely homes on lots with oodles of acres of space to call your own only. We were on a kind of cross-section multiplex of 5 roads that cornered closer to the middle of both. We rested on the southwest edge, just far enough from the higher end places to make you envious, farther away from the low rent district so you felt like you made it out of somewhere, but close enough to nothing to call it home. This was good enough for my sister Karen, and I. The home at 93 Blackpoint Road was heaven on earth to our parents.
Once in a while, my dad would declare, “Let’s go for a ride.” So we did. The Ford Falcon station wagon was a transitional vehicle from my dad’s truck to a family car. He still had the truck, but with this car, he could work out of it and fit all four of us on our way to nowhere. Life was just starting, and so was good. Karen would sit with me in the back seat, mapping her plan to be the best at everything and not piss everyone off. She would succeed with her plan. I had my Etch-A-Sketch wondering what made it work. Time passed slowly, wobegone as it was.
For regular readers and followers, I think I will string together some number of days, see you tomorrow.