Thursday, August 6, 2015

Grandpa said it would be like this

Grandpa told me about how it was. His brothers and sisters - all his family - were gone. Passed. His friends were gone. Passed. He, and Prilly, his 2nd wife, were the only ones left. Prilly was a bridesmaid at his first wedding - to Dorothea. Dorothea Bristol - my grandmother. But Grandpa was the last. It didn't take but a couple of sentences for him to say it. His friends had passed. His family had passed. The people of his generation - all passed.

So, I knew it would come to my life, someday. Of course, back then, when G-pa said it, it WAS "someday". Someday in the unknown and unknowable future. But, in the FUTURE.

I'd had a friend or two who passed away young - an auto accident - cancer - but they were very much the exception. I knew, someday, this would change.

And, today, it is changing. High school classmates are passing at an increasing rate. Famous people my age - many are passing. Which brings me to the reason for this post. I mean, life goes on - we all know that. When you get old you die, sooner or later.

But a few days ago Terry Pratchett died. He was 3 years older than me. He had a true gift for words - the like of which we only see less than a dozen in any generation. He was a genius for wisdom packed into fantasy and humor. His obit page on Yahoo linked to an animated movie of Wyrd Sisters - but I tell ya - it was pretty poor. They put all kinds of stereotypes on the words and characters Pratchett created, and asfaic, they didn't catch the characters much.

Pratchett managed to capture true wisdom in comedic characters. He had a viciously clear eye for the truth of human relations.

Note: I saved this as a draft when I wrote it, shortly after Terry Pratchett's death. I wasn't sure it would stand up to time, so I set it aside. But Pratchett was an exceptional mind for his vision of the human condition and the human spirit. We have lost a great man. I wrote this post in grief over Pratchett's passing, and never finished the thoughts here. 

To tie up the loose ends then: Terry Pratchett was a great man and a great thinker. Now, granted, he did his thinking in some novels that were typically light-hearted. But it was still some pretty deep commentary on humans and what being a member of that group called humanity meant. Some very pithy stuff buried at a rather shallow level - but buried enough that you could ignore the depth and just pay attention to the fun on the surface. 

The other loose end was the message Grandpa imparted. In short: we pass. Hang around long enough and everybody you knew will pass. And after many years of youth, when you might lose a few, a time will come when all those remaining will pass in quick step. And not a day will go by but what you are hit by what has passed. 

And my message is that, for my generation, that time has begun. 

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