Monday, January 23, 2012

Time's A Funny Thing by Jeff Turner

Time’s A Funny Thing
This  will be the final chapter in my third book “Notes To My Kids”. It closes the story and repeats some of the themes I write about in the book. I did something similar in “Days Remembered” with “Do You Remember?”. The notes in this book are written to my kids “Roger” and “Jane” – I use these names for them in my other books.
Photo courtesy of
To Roger and Jane…
When you two were small children the movie “Always” came out. It still is one of my personal favorites. In it Pete, an air tanker pilot, played by Richard Dreyfus , gets killed in an accident. In the afterlife the guardian angel “Hap”, played by Audrey Hepburn, tries to guide him to final peace and acceptance of his fate.
In one scene he and Hap travel back and forth in time where he sees his past. While they sit in a forest Hap tells the temporally confused Pete “…time’s a funny thing…”.

Indeed it is. I think you’ll see.

Jane, Roger came over to see me the day you went back to Galveston. On New Year’s Eve day we went to eat at a Russian restaurant in Arlington. On the way we went through east Fort Worth where we used to live. And in a short time we went back and forth in time like Pete did in the movie.

After going down Loop 820, we exited at Brentwood Stair Road and drove down  past the Kolache Shop, Little Tykes day care, and the bank building where your mom once worked. As we moved down Brentwood, we talked about Best Mart, the convenience store. We always stopped there for gas, beer, and snacks before we went to the New Park a little north of there. We spent a lot of time at the playground or looking at the horses in the pasture next to it. The horses are no longer there; the pasture that they once grazed in is now a field of houses.

We turned down Sandy Lane and around us were 1960’s era brick veneer homes surrounded by oak trees which looked much like they did when we lived there. We took a left onto Monterrey Drive. Similar to what we saw on Sandy, the houses seemed to be the same. Memories surfaced as we drove past the homes of our former neighbors like the Simpsons, the Jeffries – whose kids you played with, or Mrs. Shaw who was always in a bad mood.

 Then we were in front of our old home. The big trees were still there, bigger than before, but the house was mostly the same. . The dormers still faced the front yard from your old rooms upstairs and the big tree in the middle of the back yard still cast its branches over the yard. The big bay window by the front door also looked the same. How many times did we peer through its glass to see what was outside? The owners had painted the red brick a medium gray but that was the only obvious change. And next to it there was Jess and Madge’s old house which really did look unchanged. At that moment I could see us there with Jess on a warm summer day. A grandfather, he would smile at you two and ask what you had been doing at school. While these things happened over 20 years ago  it seemed we were still there, as if time had stood still.

Coming back to the present we turned around and drove further down Sandy finding the Old Park. The playground   equipment that you two once scurried over was new.  The trees remained along with the ball field and at the north end of the park was our old backyard fence. The second story of the house and the big tree on the back property line still looked above its top. The year could have been 1985 or 1995 and it would have looked the same.

Next, we continued south on Sandy and drove past the cemetery, where Lee Harvey Oswald lies in his unmarked grave. Nothing much had changed, the same houses, buildings, and trees still stood guard along the street where they had always been.

We drove on to Arlington and turned on to Lancaster to the east beside the railroad tracks, past unchanged areas of trees and pastures.. About the only new things were the gas wells in the fields. The leafless but timeless post oaks were still there, reaching quietly upward around the new well heads and tanks.

When we arrived in Arlington we drove past the Campo Verde restaurant where we used to eat. I wondered if the food was as good as it was in the past. On the outside it looked the same as if nearly twenty years hadn’t passed. And as we neared the Russian place I saw another restaurant we’d frequented: Jo-Ed’s Bomber which made northeastern style sub sandwiches. It, too, was seemingly unchanged. All enhanced our love of togetherness and good food. We laughed a lot back then.

After we ate at the Russian place, we went by a house on Bowen Road that your mom and I considered buying. We didn’t because it had a foundation leak in the garage. The neighborhood around it, like the old east side, hadn’t changed much. Time had passed but you could not tell that just by driving through the area. That day was a trip down the Memory Lane seeing what once was the fabric of our lives. On the way to eat lunch we saw a big slice of our past in a couple of hours. Just as Pete saw his life go back and forth before his eyes in that short scene in “Always”, we saw a big part of our lives go by as we drove down those once frequently travelled roads.

So Hap was right you see, time is a funny thing. Things and places change and sometimes they don’t, even though decades have flown past. Though the world and time has moved on, at least it still is in our memories. Hence, they should not be forgotten, but should be tucked away in our hearts and minds to be revisited from time to time. When we go back to see our old haunts, we see where we came from and recall important events from our lives one more time.

Maybe that is why I write my books. Recording the past helps me make drives like we did that day. In that way, the memory of our time together as a family will go down time’s own long road and be remembered by you, and hopefully one day by your own family and kids. Then you can tell them time’s a funny thing just like Hap told Pete.
Jeff has published two books, the story of a marriage before divorce and another after divorce, Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters and life Stories and Notes To Stephanie, Days Remembered. His current WIP is titled Notes To My Kids: Little Stories About Grown Up Kids. When he is not writing he is involved in I-T Projects and loves cooking.


Ruby Johnson said...

Jeff, thanks for sharing your thoughts of memory lane. I took a trip last year to see my childhood home and it was gone. However, memories cling even when a physical structure has disappeared.
Time is a funny thing.

George said...

You’ve got readers sitting in the car with you. Thank you for another enjoyable chunk from your newest, and a reminder the simplest memory can jar imagination as well as more memories. I’m looking forward to hearing more -- see you Sunday.

Jeff Turner said...

Thank you both. I am glad the imagery was good too.

SusieSheehey said...

Thanks for sharing Jeff. I love the mirroring with Hap and Pete.

J.A. Bennett said...

Jeff, great excerpt! I love the imagery of the old oaks embracing the new members of their landscape. Poignant symbol for, as you said, "things and places change and sometimes they don't." Great stuff :)

Jeff Turner said...

Many thanks to Susie and J.A.!

C. A. Szarek said...

That was great Jeff! Makes me want to read the rest of the book!

Jeff Turner said...

There are a lot more notes in it like that one for sure......

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