Daddooooo sat in this iteration of a Windsor writing desk every morning. We called it the Jefferson Chair, because Thomas Jefferson is said to have composed pieces of the Declaration of Independence in a similar chair and that must be true because we saw the same kind of chair at Monticello and it was something on which my parents agreed. There was no reason to examine something that didn't cause an argument.
But, I digress.
After his breakfast of oatmeal and hot tea, he'd take the New York Times to the Jefferson Chair, open to the death notices, and begin to read. Why? "Just checking to be sure that most of them are older than I am," was his standard reply. "
Lately, I've begun to understand his reasoning. He used those obituaries as a measuring stick; he was still young if the newly deceased were older than he was. As he aged, he began "checking to see if I know anybody." It must have been reassuring to find himself on this side of the abyss; I know it makes me happy to find myself here.
And so, when I awoke to find that Bears' defensive coach Buddy Ryan (yes, he did other things but that's how I remember him) and Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summit were dead, I had a Daddooooo moment.
Buddy Ryan was 82, but he's frozen in time for me in 1985, 50 years old and ornery. Pat Summitt had been sick for a long time; her release from early-onset Alzheimers felt sad but not tragic. Neither death should have been surprising, but they were. Neither should have shaken me, but they did.
Little Cuter was a newborn when Buddy's Bears won the Super Bowl. I conjure baby pictures of her in the same imaginative frame as I find those football players. It doesn't feel that long ago. And yet.... if Buddy Ryan has aged, then so have I.
I had no idea that Pat Summit and I shared the same birth year; she always seemed so much more mature than I. Yet, there it was on the screen this morning... and I came face to face with the fact that I am at the age when it's not my parents and my friends' parents and actors from the 1940's who are dropping like flies, but my friends and my friends' friends and famous figures from my time.
I'm not complaining. I'm glad to be here. I just don't like being reminded of my mortality.
Take good care of yourselves, denizens. I'm not in the mood for any more bad news.