You Can’t Always Get What You Want


Saturday morning brings with it bad news.  My grandfather has taken another turn, severe enough that my father is doing his agonizing and all-too familiar rush up to Minnesota while we sit in the peanut gallery and wait for news. And at 94, that whatever the solution is today or this month, or this year, has an expiration date.  We are going to know this loss.

I know that going won’t change what is either to be or not to be, but I feel a hundred, a thousand micro-tremors of emotion.  Regrets, sadness, nostalgia, thinking about my grandfather’s emotions as he experiences this pondering what I should be doing, trying to be helpful for my father who is ever the dutiful son, feeling worried about things entirely unrelated and being frustrated about that.

And all at once, I know, that here we are and I love my grandfather and I know he loves me and my imaginings, my worries and fears, are just ways to modulate the sort of awesome, silent understanding that there’s nothing that needs to be done.  I connect here and now and I don’t need approval or participation or anyone else.  I just am going to do it and hope, as I always do, that he is happy or on his way back towards happiness.

When I received the news this morning, there was a flurry of phone calls and text messages and my father was trying to get ahold of my half-sister to see if there was a quick flight attendant maneuver that could somehow get him on this magical non-existent flight to Fargo.  She’s in Shanghai, but answered and there were options, but no great options.  Finally, I got a call

I’m pleased as punch that I was able to put aside all my odd, foaming, circulating web of fears and negative emotions and basic crap and to hear that unimaginably small shift of tone in my father’s voice.  To hear that tiniest bit of vulnerability about all of it.  His mother, his brother, and now, his dad.  And instead of complaining or worrying myself or telling him what I thought needed to be done, or mentally living in how this rattles and breaks my heart or how I couldn’t feel the depth of it whatsoever, I just said, I will be right over.

And I was.  And we got the ticket booked and I know, in some small way, that I helped.  He wants to get to the airport more than 3 hours beforehand.   Okay.  He wants to ask five times if he’s got the right paperwork.  Okay.

I still am sitting with it all.  Waiting for some revelation, trying to put it all in order, trying too hard when it’s just a game of 52 Pickup right now.

What I have is this:  It was odd.  When I got out of the car at my parents’, someone, somewhere in the houses behind me was playing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.  It just blared into the quiet street as if it was in my own mind.  Later, as we were waiting for the time to come for my dad to actually go to the airport, he told me to put on my show if I wanted.  I knew what this meant.  MST3K.  After a first attempt at Space Mutiny, we ended up with Overdrawn at the Memory bank which features a memorable scene where Mike and the robots sing the children’s chorus of that song…you can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you get what you need.




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