He sat there fumbling with the remote control like the idiot he is. I tried to turn a blind eye, he’s been very sensitive about criticism since he turned 115 and I had enough drama to deal with as it was. It went on for another 15 minutes, the outburst was inevitable.
Me: For God’s sake, put that thing down!
Tubby: It’s just not working.
Me: Who cares, just get off your lazy, bony, century-old tail bone and switch channels from the receiver.
Tubby: Oh but you don’t understand. (He said with a feeble voice). I’m not trying to change the channel. I’m looking for the rewind button.
Me: Tubby, you old stupid thing. You know we don’t have a recorder, this is just TV, not even one of those fancy subscriptions where you get to control the pace of whatever you choose to watch, this is just regular TV, they pitch all kinds of crappy shows at you and you watch dutifully. Besides, I’ve seen this movie before I can tell you what happened, what will happen, and I can certainly tell you it’s not worth your time. Well, my time. After all anything is worth your miserable time.
He shook his head in dismay.
Tubby: You still don’t understand. It’s not the movie I’m trying to rewind.
Me (impatiently): What is it then?
His eyes drooped, his head sank between his shoulder and his hand relaxed with the remote control rolling on he couch.
Tubby: My life.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty for being so harsh on him. I remembered how he checked the crows feet around his eyes with a melancholy expression the other day. I had to say something to console him.
Me: Well, rewind buttons are overrated. You see, sometimes I think that Ii would have to go back in time and fix a few things but then I can’t decide how far back I want to go and what exactly to fix, it just gets me so confused that I ended up being thankful that we don’t have that super ability. It would be too big of a mess. That way you have to move on because it’s your only choice.
Tubby: But you must have some regrets. Something you badly wish to undo.
Me: God knows I do, big time. It’s just that when I think about it, I find that the things I want to undo are not what you might call “game changers”. You see, I think things worked fine for me, even the things I didn’t like at the time and wished I could undo, but now I have made my peace with them and had enough time to make sense of everything. If I want to change something it’s “How” those things happened, not whether they happened or not.
Tubby: Oh but you don’t understand. Perhaps when you’re my age you will.
Me (with a slight chuckle): Well, I don’t think that’s very probably, but I see your point. Come on, you’re not that old, you still have your whole life ahead of you (then under my breath:) however short that may be.
Tubby: Oh but you don’t understand. It’s not how many years I lived, it’s what I did in them. I did nothing. I have no one.
Me: You have me…
Tubby: Well, ummmm…
Me: Okay, I get it, you have no one. You still have time. You can make some friends. Perhaps even a family.
Tubby: But it won’t be the same. And I’m afraid that there won’t be enough time and then I’ll die without having loved or being loved sufficiently.
Me: Tubby! You’re turning into quite the philosopher. Impressive.
Tubby: Don’t deflect…
Me: But that’s what I do. I deflect, I change the subject, I turn it into a joke…
Tubby: Not this time. I’m hurting.
Me: I think you’re being a bit too dramatic.
Tubby: You don’t understand.
Me: Okay. I’m done with this “you don’t understand thing”. I may not be 100 years old and I may never be, but I do understand what you’re going through very well. You’re focusing on the past, on what’s gone, on your 115 years wasted for free. But you know what? In the process you’re neglecting all the years, or year, or months, or whatever period of time that can be worth all those past years. No matter how little time you have left, it’s what you should be focusing on.
Tubby: That’s self-help rubbish.
Me: No it’s not! I kid you not I haven’t read that or heard it anywhere. You can say it’s a personal conclusion. But I understand it could be hard to see, because you’re too consumed with the past that you can’t see the possibilities of the future. It takes one look, just one chance at happiness to make you realize again that life still has something to offer. Even if it doesn’t work out, it will have done the job for you, which is to make you know that you’re not done yet.
Tubby: Oh… Now I feel worse
Me: How could you possibly feel worse? I just went on a lecture worthy of a Hollywood movie with a Celin Dion song playing in the background.
Tubby: I know but it made me feel a bit better, while I wanted to indulge in some good old self-pity. You know I need my drama. What am I supposed to do now?
Me: You’re supposed to get out of my face, that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Tubby: Sorry to bother you. I wish I had a rewind button so I could un-bother you.