In 1987 I wrote a column that began, “Liberace is dead, and the opportunity to do something I always thought I would do — attend a Liberace concert — is gone.”
That part is obsolete, but the rest of the column bears repeating.
Standing in a pile of unfinished business and broken promises, I look around and see ideas that I’ve abandoned and people whom I’ve cast aside, thinking, of course, I’d get back to them someday. But will I? Will they still be there?
Psychologists were lamenting even then the nuclear family, separated by great distances, the children denied strokes by grandparents, aunts and uncles that would add richness to a child’s life and build self-esteem.
When my only nephew was born 400 miles away, I intended to become his favorite person. Why didn’t I follow through with my plan to lavish love on this child despite the distance?
Ditto for his sister, my only niece. Surely no lack of love caused my neglect. But children feel few loving feelings from an aunt who performs few loving acts.
Why didn’t I span the miles with funny cards or phone calls? A shiny new toy sent for no reason wouldn’t have hurt either.
Are my daily burdens excessive? My work prodigiously absorbing, my time too precious, and my personal life such that I can’t be bothered?
Year after year I’ve done little to retain old friendships once cherished. Unanswered letters haunt me. Unanswered questions such as whatever happened to…? float like ghosts in half-forgotten dreams of promised reunions.
Is my life so redundantly filled with new persons that old friends no longer matter? Do I not care?
And whatever happened to all those causes that once mattered so intensely? Did somebody else fix what I thought was broken while I wasn’t looking?
I guess some other pet owner took their pup to visit nursing homes.
Another volunteer must have tutored kids to read.
Was I lying when I told that woman to call if she needed me? Was I pretending to care?
Am I pretending now when I vow that tomorrow I’ll begin anew and do better?
What else am I overlooking?
Who is waiting to share a laugh over a misunderstanding?
Is there someone to forgive or be forgiven by?
My niece and nephew grew up fine without me. No matter that my new friends don’t share the same history.
Surely those causes were fought and won by others. Weren’t they? Apparently not as those same causes are in the news every day today.
It is frightening to think nobody cares that I let go. It feels as though I’ve slept through Christmas and missed the whole party.
As time passes regrets grow heavier.
I’m awake now. Please don’t let it be too late.
Acting on good intentions takes work, but it seems like work worth doing.