I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life

I was hoping to write a couple of digressions this evening and tomorrow on a variety of subjects including Ballet and the confines of creativty and freedom; and ZP (Zapatero Presidente), George W and Reyes (the Spanish celebration of the Epiphany). Unfortunately, I just got news that my paternal grandfather is fairing very poorly. He has acute heart failure, and I am hoping for the best for him, whatever that may be.

The last time my grandfather, Grandpa Al (“the kiddies’ pal”), was this ill was in 1998 when he had to undergo open heart surgery. I remember that at that time, I was just finishing law school and studying for the New York Bar Examination. It was a pretty trying time for my family due to my grandfather’s condition. Unforunately, I was unable to give anyone much of my time because my schedule required 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted studying, 7 days a week for 2 months. Luckily and regardless of a priest having given him his last rights, Grandpa Al pulled through and has lived now for 9 more years.

Whenever I hear the song “Good Riddance” by Greenday, I always think of those last days of law school and the 2 months when I studied for the Bar and just how important those people around us are in making life so worthwhile:

It was at that time that the Seinfeld show had its final episode. On the night of the Seinfeld finale, I had my last law school exam in International Project Finance (a field that at the time I had hoped to work in). The exam was rather important, extremely difficult, and it was rumored that no one had ever finished the exam within the 4 hour time limit. The exam was to run from 5pm to 9pm, and the finale began at 8pm. I took that exam like the wind, fully concentrated, sweating like pigs that can fly, and finished at 7:50pm. While I handed in the exam (to my professor’s astonishment), one of my classmates whispered to me, “you’ve failed”. Actually, I believe I received a fairly high grade, something that only occurred in my term of law school.

If anyone is familar with my driving (or with my personality in general), then they’ll know that I drive like a grandparent. Yet, I was home in record time. My girlfriend at the time was recording the show for me, and assuming that I would not make it in time, had left the apartment with her mother to have a drink and to then return to watch it on tape together with me. Well, I decided to watch anyways while I waited for her. The first hour was simply a recompilation of scenes from earlier episodes. At the very end of this first part, prior to airing the actual finale, there was a video of behind the camera shots of all of the actors accompanied by Greenday’s “Good Riddance”. It was basically a tribute to the cast by the cast, saying that they had had the time of their lives working together.

A few years later when my friend Jorge prematurely passed away in his mid 20s (about the same age I had been in 1998) due to a brain tumor, I immediately thought of that song, wondering whether he had in fact had the “time of his life”. I wondered whether he could look back on such a short life and say, “yes, I think even upon such short notice, it’s alright for me to leave, it has all been worth it.”

For whenever I hear that song, I always feel wonderful about 1998. And I think that for some reason, it was the time of my life, even if it was one of the most trying. In 1998, I finished law school; studied for, took, waited for the results, and passed the Bar; and shared so much of myself with others as they had shared in return. After that year, I felt as if I could say, “good riddance [to that time], for I have had the time of my life.” And what concerned me most, I suppose, about Jorge’s abrupted life was precisely that he would be able to say the same.

Now as I flash forward to today 9 years later in 2007, I am once again far removed from being able to do much to comfort my father, grandmother, and the rest of my family. Rather, here I am thousands of miles away thinking of that Seinfeld video from that last episode in 1998. And all I can do is be thankful that last Saturday I was in The Bronx with Grandpa Al, and just hope that he has had the time of his life. Well, with a wife, 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren, at least so many of us have had the opportunity to aspire to do so.

In the meantime, let’s concentrate on feeling better.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family

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