Inheritance: My exalted grandfather Charles J. Klima died in May. I wrote his obit, delivered a eulogy and MC’d at his funeral, bearing more raw, heartfelt emotion than I’d let loose in a decade. I did the guy’s memory a solid at the time, so I’m done with the tributes for now. Beyond missing him, what keeps coming back to me is a sense, totally unexpected, of “succession.” With that generation of our scary-small family now gone, there’s this void. Who will be the steady presence? The one who thinks beyond narrow interests and steps up to deal with family business—even just preventing us from ignoring each other? In a field of fewer than 8, I feel like a candidate. We bury Old Chuck’s ashes next weekend; I find my back straightening at the thought. That’s how these things happen I guess: almost before you realize it’s your turn, you’re ready.
Disability: I have a usual commute of fewer than 15 feet and a general distaste for danger. So I wager my odds of serious injury are slim. Yet my sense of prudence now whispers, “insure thyself.” Disability coverage, that depressing symbol of fragile middle-class survival, costs less than I expected and requires only the sacrifice of my blood and urine (I was due for a cleanse anyway). What pains me is contemplating when I’d use it: a calamity severe enough to shut me down but not severe enough to kill me. Here I am being cautious and all I can picture is Johanna holding a drool cup for “Vegetable Dad.” At least the cup will be paid for. Far from easing my worry, this deal is harshing my mellow.
Congenital Weirdness: Last month’s trip to Oregon was jammed with close encounters—over 50 friends and family members visited by Sarah’s count. In that Twilight Zone of our existence, drama is endless and ever-escalating, especially as the old get older (us included). In a week full of arched eyebrows and near-spit-takes, I’m left with vivid images—some funny, some terrifying: a brother cruising the ‘burbs flaunting his Taekwondo Green Belt (now that’s reppin’ the WTF); a patch of peaceful family farm converted to motorbike dirt track; Papa Ted commanding 6-year-olds to memorize his favorite bits of “The Lays of Ancient Rome” (Johanna was a real sport, going along with it but shooting me glances like “when will this end?”).
On my last night, I received a stern warning about currency devaluation and the cataclysm to come: “Mark my words, there will be blood in the streets. And it won’t be mine.”