Vienna Waits For All Of Us

     Growing up with my father came with a bunch of one liners; some were one liners with literally one word and some were bold small statements mixed with shrugs, full hand swipes and Yiddush slang! Aside from telling me to do my homework and that he loved me there were three things my dad said that basically encompassed my entire childhood, “Jessie don’t be a nudzh (Nag),” “Stop Utzing me (bugging)” and the most common, almost used every day was “Pamelekh!” “Pamelekh!”  (Frequently yelled loudly in English to SLOW DOWN!” )

      It did not occur to me to slow down until about 3 years ago when I realized my daughter was much taller than I was, my middle child followed my eldest into middle school and my baby was reading The Martian .  Around this time I was also planning a party for my dad’s 85th birthday. I sat for hours upon hours going through old pictures to put into a slide show that would scroll through during the beginning of his party, cocktail hour.  I knew that Billy Joel would be playing alongside the rolling reel of images, as my father and I knew every song, every word by heart.

When the afternoon of the party arrived and music and photographs filled the room something happened. The song “Vienna Waits For You” began to play at the same time a picture of me as a 5 year old came up; then a picture of all my kids as tiny tiny children with their Zaide; then POOF! – a picture of all of us only a few months prior when we visited my dad in Florida. An entire lifetime whizzed past me in 5 seconds and as I looked over at my father one word came to mind, “Pamelekh.” There were so many things he was trying to tell me in that one word. I was 39 years old and finally got it.

The phrase If I knew back then what I know now is haunting, and we cannot live life like that; we must try and live in the moment, do the best we can without regrets. However, if we could slow down during those moments that we do not want to slip by too quickly we may just be able to remember them better, hold our memories in a little closer.

When I was pregnant everyone had something to tell me about something; do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that and the big one “It goes by so fast.”

It does, so dammit, Pamelekh!

Slow down, you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart, then tell me
Why are you still so afraid?

Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You’d better cool it off before you burn it out
You’ve got so much to do
And only so many hours in a day……..Billy Joel

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