Living Columns & Blogs

Life events show that time can be both a friend and a foe

Dorothy Wilhelm
Dorothy Wilhelm

I’m actually pretty sure I would have made it to my brother’s Memorial Mass on time if the police officer hadn’t stopped me for speeding. So it really wasn’t my fault. “Seven miles above the speed limit,” she said sternly. I waited in my car trying to look nonchalant as if being stopped by the police were an every day occurrence. “Your license is valid,” said the officer, sounding mildly astonished when she returned after what seemed like a very long time. She sent me off with a warning to creep down the street at about 17 mph, risking a citation for obstruction of traffic.

Time is not my friend. Everything seems to take more time. Even my wardrobe requires a whole different time frame and vocabulary. For instance, look at the time it takes to deal with what are delicately called “compression garments”. These are prescription stockings, presumably knitted in the Black Forest, thus providing work for under-employed elves. They can’t just be slipped on but are fitted over a rack into which the hapless wearer (me) slithers a shake at a time. (Note: The “shake” is a unit used to describe the time it takes for one step in a nuclear chain reaction, or 10 billionths of a second, according to that esteemed peer reviewed publication Mental Floss.) If I start as early as 5 a.m. I’ll still not be completely shaken or slithered in by 8 o’clock.

Soon, I’ll fly to Minnesota for my grandson’s high school graduation. So I’m trying to save time and extra luggage fees by stuffing everything into a single suitcase. So far the kitchen sink doesn’t fit, but I’ll get it in.

My fabled Fall Monitor has to go everywhere I go and it always takes extra attention. I must notify the response team of travel times, so that if I should fall, they don’t waste time looking for me at the Morgan Family YMCA. They can immediately start scouting around under tables and deserted pathways in the Minneapolis area. Before passing through security, I’ll have to take the monitor off and put it in one of those plastic buckets, where it will surely feel abandoned and immediately begin to call for help. Only last week my worst fear was realized when an enthusiastic hugger activated the monitor and a voice from deep in my cleavage began to cry, “Dorothy, do you need help?” Within seven seconds a real live person was on the line and when I told her my monitor was stuck in my undergarment, she seemed ov-+ercome by empathetic tears or maybe hysterical laughter. I couldn’t tell. “I’ll just say you don’t need help,” she said.

Sometimes, time flies. It’s hard to believe it’s been forty years since the first “Star Wars” movie was released. My boys made lifelong friends of every possible Star Wars action figure. One day I found my old­est son, now a grandfather, still playing Star Wars with his grandson—my first great-grandson. They had two Darth Vader ac­tion figures. One wore the iconic black helmet and accessories. The other was scarred, scuffed and had lost his helmet. Two Darth Vaders? “Yes,” said the grandfather who was once my baby. “This is Darth Vader and that one is his less successful twin brother, Darrell” Families take time to make allowances for each other.

My grandson has chosen a Midwestern engineering university with a strong robotics program. Somewhere down the line the brave new world waits for both of us but just this minute, we have all the time in the world.

Dorothy Wilhelm is a humorist, speaker and writer and broadcaster. Listen to her podcast, Swimming Upstream at Her latest book is True Tales of Puget Sound. Information on book events, call 253-582-4565. Email or write – PO Box 881, DuPont, WA 98327

Dorothy Wilhelm’s events in June

June 13: Aging Expo, Lakewood Senior Activity Center, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For information, call 253-798-4090.

June 20: AROWS, Patriot’s Landing, DuPont, noon. For information, call 253-582-4565.

June 29: “Stories of Puget Sound” Special Event, Eatonville Senior High School, 7 p.m. For information, call 253-370-3675.