As our children age, we notice. As our parents age, we notice. Sandwiched between 2 generations, it is often our own aging that escapes us. When our head is down, just getting through the day, week, month, or year, it is easy to let time slip past without much notice. Then, if you are anything like me, you have those moments that force you to look up (sometimes in front of the mirror) and ask, “When the heck did that happen?!”
Early this morning, Andy Rooney passed away. I had followed the news. I had heard he was in the hospital, complications after a surgery. The news of his hospitalization was not surprising; he was 92. I can’t say the news of his death was shocking; he was 92! However, news of his death forced me “to look up” this morning.
When I was growing up, Sunday programming brought us together in my house. I remember watching “60 Minutes” on CBS every Sunday evening as a family. In my later high school years and throughout college, “Sunday Morning” with Charles Kuralt started our morning with its familiar trumpet opening. (I think it’s a trumpet–if not, please let me know. My father, the saxophone player, would be horrified!) The day was “bookended” by programs that made us think, prompted discussions and, sometimes, even heated debates. Looking back, I could speculate my parents had a strategy; they wanted to raise children that were both informed and articulate. As a parent, I now realize that not every move we make has a grand strategy behind it. Truthfully, I think my parents just liked the programs and sharing them with their children was a perk. The perk, it turned out, was mine.
Those programs became a part of me; the times of discussion and debate with my mom and dad were pivotal in my development. Many times, my eyes were opened to a world I didn’t know existed. I learned how to speak my mind. I learned what was important to my parents, what made them smile, or angry, or sad. I learned the same of myself. And, I learned about Andy Rooney. Wry, dry, common-sense Andy Rooney. Even if I was in the depths of studying for exams, I left my work to hear Andy’s closing segment. Rarely, if ever, was I disappointed.
After I left my parents house, Sunday’s changed. I caught “Sunday Morning” on occasion. I saw “60 Minutes” if I had the TV on. I didn’t force myself to tune in regularly, but I always enjoyed both “if I happened to catch them.” This past fall, we began attending a new church. Sunday mornings changed again. The “hustle and bustle” of getting out the door slowed since the church is only minutes away and the service doesn’t start until 10. It was “chance” that I caught the sounds of the familiar trumpet announcing the start of “Sunday Morning” from the other room early one Sunday. I had been listening to the news while I cleaned the kitchen. I hadn’t yet turned off the TV. I stood as they previewed the segments, then I settled into my chair. And, for a moment, I was in my parent’s home once again.
That morning led me to share with my girls a piece of my past–a piece of me. I tuned into “60 Minutes” that night. We had watched it in the past, but rarely with intent. It was more a “leave it there until __________ starts.” My family knew, though didn’t always understand, that I liked the program, in particular Andy–“My boy” as I called him. (“Mom, your boy is on,” my girls would call. I know it was something I heard growing up. I wish I could remember which of my parents called Andy theirs.) Though they didn’t always get Andy’s “logic”, they were sharing a part of me–and their grandparents–when we watched together. A few weeks ago, we watched Andy’s final airing as a family. Though he said he would be back on occasion, I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I watched as they played clips from years past and I wondered how so many years had passed while my head was down.
When my girls were little, we read Goodnight, Moon so often we could “read” the book without looking at the words. At some point, the book was placed back on the shelf and stayed there. Time had passed. My girls had grown. Now, it is only brought out when my girlfriend’s little one comes to play, and I wonder “When the heck did that happen?” A chapter closed, while my head was down.
This morning, when Andy Rooney passed, another chapter closed. And, I was sad. I was sad that Andy’s acerbic wit wouldn’t be there as my girls grew up. I was sad his familiar voice would no longer draw me away from whatever I was doing to watch, to bond with my children and my parents. I was sad that chapter had closed.
This morning, I read the coverage and watched the segments online. I marveled at his career. I marveled at the past that came flooding back to me. It was like flipping through an anniversary edition of “LIFE” magazine. “You have earned it, Andy,” I thought, “Wow! What a life! I hope you took the time to look up.”
Good night, Andy.