Craig Glazer Considers The Meaning Of Life
TKC NOTE: Tonight in very thought provoking post, our pal Craig Glazer considers the most important topic of them all . . .
Does life have meaning?
When I was a kid, like most of us, I really wanted to make my life count. Again, like most of us, I wasn’t exactly sure what to grow up and be. We can all remember those glory years from pre-school all the way up to the end of elementary school, when you were asked, ‘Hey kid, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ For us boys, it was always the usual answers, a fireman, a policeman, a circus clown, a doctor, a lawyer and if you were really ornery, you wanted to grow up to be President. For girls, it was a little different, common answers were a nurse, a ballerina, a school teacher, a model, but most of all young girls wanted to be a housewife and a mom. Then came the hard part, really deciding what you wanted to grow up and become.
Most of us wanted a nice life, didn’t mean you necessarily had to be rich or famous; you just wanted to leave a legacy. Some achievements we could be proud of after we were no longer alive. After all, we want to be remembered for something. We all believed that the memories of our existence would go on and on long after we passed away.
I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother, Rita, who the first part of her adult life had it rough because she was in a troubled marriage. Mom was in her early thirties when she got divorced and had to raise three teenage boys by herself. Money was tight, and even though many of our relatives were well to do, the financial aid was minimal. My mom had several office jobs all the way into her early forties. There was really no money around to help my brothers and I with our college careers. Our relatives that were financially able were older and didn’t see the value in a college education since most of them were from Europe and didn’t have a college education themselves. My mom was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful man who was a banker named John who had even been an agent in the CIA when it was brand new back in the early sixties. John had a nice income and my mother inherited a handsome amount of money when her aunt passed away in the 1980’s.
My mother felt an obligation to give back to the community as she reached her middle age and beyond. Rita was involved in many charities, ladies clubs and on the board of countless other worthy projects as was her husband John. John was Christian and Rita was raised in the Jewish faith. What made them somewhat unique was that they both attended both Christian and Jewish services and programs. Everyone in Kansas City seemed to know my mom, though she never graduated MU, she maintained her friendships with hundreds of women from her former school (and her entire community) all of her life. Everywhere I went in Kansas City, I was always asked about my mother. On top of being a warm and giving person, she was also a very beautiful lady. Unlike the rest of my immediate family, you never heard a bad word spoken about my mother by anyone ever, only praise and a smile.
It was on my mother’s 70th birthday that her friends through a beautiful dinner party at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Plaza. There must have been two to three hundred women there to honor my mother from all over the United States. It was that evening that I realized just how much my mother was appreciated by her friends, her family and her community. I thought to myself, Wow, you’d have to be Hillary Clinton to have this many people come from all over the nation to celebrate a birthday.
A few short years later at age 74 and looking no older than the late forties, my mother had to have her spleen removed. I had no idea that this would cause her death in less than a year and a half. My mom became clinically depressed and then because of her health issues, her body began to fail her starting with her heart, leading to the slow shutdown of all her vital organs. Her last several months were very difficult for my brothers, myself and John because she was so mentally tortured by her physical and mental breakdowns. I was married at the time, my wife Connie and I had Rita move in with us to take the burden off her husband John, who was also becoming ill. Even though Mom bounced back for a couple of months and after a year in and out of hospitals was beginning to have a social life, going out to dinners and the odd movie and even drove a brand new car, she eventually collapsed again and we all were in deep pain as she ended her days in a hospice surrounded by her family and a few close friends. Mom was 75 years old but seemed so much younger until she got ill. Her death shocked me.
A few short years later, her wonderful husband John also passed away. Before he died, he began to have me come over to his home and pick up all my mother’s memorabilia. These things included college photos, her doll collection, family albums, many of the souvenirs they had collected in their travels, even some of her clothing. After about the third trip to his home, it finally dawned on me when her husband John, dies, I will be all that’s left on the planet that knows or cares about Rita, my mother. Sure there were a few of her friends still alive, now in their 80’s, and of course there’s my brother Jeff, and his sons, who loved Rita but because they were so young their memories of her would soon fade out. My father, her first husband, Stan was still alive but their relationship had ended decades ago. I stood back in my spare bedroom where all of her memories were kept, the pictures. She had movie star good looks all of her life, and in fact, one of the things she left me was a Shirley Temple doll. I looked at some of her pictures when she was a little girl and she looked very much like Shirley Temple. I got choked up thinking, ‘Wow, just a few years ago all those women came to celebrate Mom’s 70th birthday, and in only a few years, all of those women will join the ranks of the unliving as well.’ Then I had the harshest thought of all, ‘When I die, all the memories of Rita, my mother, will died with me"Pretty sad. There won’t be anyone left to look at the photos, or the memorabilia or the dolls of a life well lived as such a kind and wonderful person.
I didn’t mean for this to be a story about my Mother, it’s about legacy. There really isn’t one. When our lives end, it’s over. I know this isn’t what people want to believe, but there isn’t a legacy. When we die, there are a few people that have fond memories, friends, children, grandchildren and the like, but as they vanish, so do you…along with your life and achievements. If you say, what about the famous people; sure, there can be some shrines for the greatest ball players, movie stars, rock stars or political leaders but even they, after a time can fade and be forgotten. You say what about Julius Caesar, or maybe John Kennedy, the idea of them sticks around for a few centuries at best, then they too become a fuzzy memory and exist only in a history book or online in Google searches. We are all a part of this non-existent legacy, again, there really isn’t one. I wish there were, I used to believe there was, but the story I just told you about my dear mother, slapped me in the face with the truth, there just isn’t.
So what’s the answer, enjoy your life while you are here, try and be a great parent, grandparent, brother or sister, and even a true friend to those who are friends in your life. I guess what I’m trying to say in conclusion, if there is a Heaven or Hell, it only exists right here on Earth. Enjoy your time, while you have it, because that’s all you are ever going to have.