I am so thrilled to welcome my friend and colleague, Dr. Kirk Curnutt, as a special guest essayist for Reflection and Choice. Thank you, Kirk.
Time the Avenger, Time the Redeemer
One of the first things I did after my father died unexpectedly in 1992 was count calendar squares back to his final birthday. He lived exactly forty-nine years and 108 days, I discovered. The precise number was important because I knew a time would come, if I managed to eke it out, when I would have to admit that I had lived longer than he ever did.
The author and his father, 1971, turning 7 and 29 respectively.
Knowing the number of days wasn’t necessary for calculating when this turning point would occur. That didn’t require much math. Because I was born on my father’s twenty-second birthday, all I had to do was flip forward a couple of decades and a deuce and go one day past the solemn anniversary whose observance would by then, I feared, have grown old hat.
The number was of more ritual importance. I needed it to imagine the countdown—or the count-up—I knew I would commence when I hit that final November 15 of my forties: 10 … 20 … 80 .. 100 …
March 3, 2014, I scribbled in a now-discarded notebook. Forty-nine and 109. It wasn’t intended as an Oedipal boast or taunt. It was a warning from my twenty-seven year-old self to prepare for the day I would lose my father all over again.