I was driving much too fast that Friday night. I admit it and the fact that I was in a hurry is irrelevant. My husband Larry was asleep in the passenger seat, and we were headed home to Georgia for the weekend. Cruising up I95 somewhere in middle Florida, I glanced over to my right to see that I was passing a Florida State Patrol car. Naturally, my eyes then darted to the speedometer. It read 85 mph. At that very moment Larry awoke and sat up to look out his window. He found himself eye to eye with a state patrolman.
And in the driver’s seat I waited with bated breath. I did not touch the brake for I was caught if he chose to ticket me. I didn’t slow down. I would have been closing the gate after the horse had already escaped. So I waited, suspended in one of those long minutes of our lives when time seems to stand still. Then I waited some more, trapped in the minute. Larry just lay back down and for once in his life, he said nothing. I suspect he was hoping the incident was a nightmare. After a few minutes, I relaxed. I don’t know why the officer didn’t stop me. I’m just glad he didn’t. Perhaps he thought just seeing him and sweating for a few minutes would be enough to slow me down. Actually it worked pretty well. After I got out of his sight, I slowed down to 80 and headed on up to Georgia with Larry snoozing away.
On many occasions during the course of my life, I’ve suffered though many of those eternal minutes. I sat with other family members and waited for a beloved child to come out of a monster heart surgery. Minutes turned into hours and hours into days as we waited suspended in time, nearly frozen with fear. It seemed that the time would never pass, but then we feared the outcome also, even as we prayed for success. Those minutes were the longest of my life.
When I was a teenager, I drove the family car too close to a post, leaving a long ugly scratch down one side. The minutes between the act and confessing the act to my father seemed eternal. Only his absolution for my sin saved me from suffering.
Back before I had an air conditioner, I really thought summer never-ending. Summer’s heat seemed to gobble up the whole year. And during my childhood, I thought the years would never pass. Christmas would never come, and when it did, it went by too fast. What an enigma that was. I would surely never grow up and be my own boss. Ha! (I still have too many bosses, but I think I’m about as grown up as I’ll get.)
Looking back I can’t tell when everything changed. Now the years speed by. It seems that every time I turn around we’re having another presidential election. The calendar and the radio announce April 15 about every three weeks. Or it’s time to put up the Christmas tree again. The speeding years make me understand why people put up Christmas lights and leave them up or build a special closet in the house to store the already decorated tree. Time is ever the enigma, no matter one’s age. Perhaps it’s all related to age. Time moves slowly for the young, but fast for older folks.
When my three little grandsons were visiting recently, we celebrated Will’s third birthday. Jakey, whose birthday looms, said, “Grandma, I don’t think I can wait all the way to September for my birthday. Could we celebrate it early this year you think? I’ll just tell Mama and Daddy to come on down in August.”
No change there. He’s eager to turn seven.
Last week I commented to Larry, “Have you heard the expression ‘down in my back’? That’s what the old folks say.”
“Mae, did you realize that we are the old folks now?”
After thinking about it for a minute, I realized he’s right. Now when on earth did that happen?