Clarity usually arrives in the nick of time

Define time.

In Webster’s College Dictionary, there is an incredibly long half-page entry for “time.” I didn’t read it, as I am in a hurry.

But it comes right after Timbuktu, which it seems is a real place. Or it wouldn’t be in the dictionary, would it? Perusing my neglected monthly calendar this morning, I found that the two-page spread for June was practically empty. And yet, I was so busy I didn’t even write anything down there. I didn’t take the time to make sure I wouldn’t forget an appointment somewhere on this date at this place and time (assuming if I’d written it down, I would have looked at it daily). So I feel like living dangerously and I shoved the calendar back where it was, under a pile of papers. What good is a blank calendar anyway?

Personally, my calendar is marked by milestones of times past. It has been four years today that my very Irish mother-in-law passed away. Remembering Joan is easy because she was so mischievously alive. Smiling expectantly, she would ask her 40-year-old kids if they went to Mass on Sunday, and there was only one right answer. Sadly, a form of dementia took her quick wit in the end, but there was a time when she ran circles around everyone. So defining time, we could say that we exist when we remember?

I think of time as a thing. Something that’s happening all around us, but nothing we can touch. All we have to show for time is the ability to say we won the game, or finished a test, or read that book. If we don’t remember, then what happens to the time? Where does it go? And does it matter?

Trying to stay current is important. Not dwelling in the past is the best advice I’ve ever received, and I got it from my high school French teacher after bombing a test. A friend of my brother’s had just committed suicide and I was completely floundering. Nothing seemed to make any sense to me at that time and studying for a French test was not essential to life. Not when the tragic loss of a handsome young man was on the mind of a 17-year-old girl. Grief counselors were a futuristic idea in 1978, and that little ditty was all I ever got. Somehow that defining moment in my life is frozen in time.

My grandma also said profound words about time. Her favorite quote was “Jan honey, this too shall pass.” And she would have known — she had survived four husbands!

It’s summer. Kids are home already complaining that there’s nothing to do, the days are long and the nights are short. We all look forward to summertime. Just wish we’d have more sunshine to spend the day — or should I say better weather to shove kids outside? They don’t usually like getting wet.

Of course there’s my mile-long to-do list accumulated over the past school year that I’d like to tackle. If I just could find the time.

Federal Way resident Jan Hallahan is a writer and stay-at-home mom. Contact:

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