what time does
Jimmy’s grandmother had lived with him since he was a small child. As far back as he could remember she was with him. She, of course, would remind him that she’d had a life before him.
“I was young once. As young as you are, with the same problems and concerns that trouble you now. But then I got older. Because that’s what time does.”
When Jimmy was a teenager, troubled with the things that teenagers are troubled with, she would always be there to provide her council.
“Remember when you were six? You were always so worried and I would tell you to relax and enjoy being six. Being six is a gift. A gift with an expiration date. Soon you were seven. Because that’s what time does.”
“What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks and that’s all.”
“The shark is a metaphor Jimmy” she would say when he returned home at twenty three, filled with angst and worry about his job or new girlfriend. “Remember when you were fifteen? The things that upset you? I bet you look back and wish that those were the things that upset you now.”
“But grandma, you don’t understand” he would often reply.
She would just smile. “Maybe you’re right. Sometimes we get wiser, picking up a few bits of wisdom here and there. Wisdom that often times appears as just common sense in retrospect. Internalizing it seems to be the trick. Sometimes Jimmy we just get older… because that’s what time does.”
When Jimmy got into his fifties he would visit his grandma at the retirement community his parents had put her in. Sometimes she would have her wits about her and sometimes she was just like a ghost of what she was.
He would hold her hand for hours and hope to see glimpses of who she was. When she made an appearance he would listen to her recount stories that she’d already told him a dozen times or more. About her life. Her loves and losses, about the people she cared about that were no longer around. One time she said “I remember the first time I heard someone refer to the road as an ‘endless black ribbon’. It made such an impression on me. I’m not sure if I read it or heard it in a song but it stayed with me Jimmy. It made me think about the road ahead and how you can see it or you can feel it under your feet but never both at the same time.”
He wasn’t sure what provoked such a memory but he was thankful for it just the same.
“Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity of remorse or fear…and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.”
-The Terminator 1984
“The Terminator is just a metaphor, huh grandma?” he said one day and a faraway grin slowly crept across her face.
And then one day she was gone. Because that’s what time does.