If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
This prompt was more difficult to write than it should have been. I initially wanted to write about my interest in witnessing a part of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s America. For some reason that time period has always fascinated me with it’s honesty and simplicity. In those days there was an immediate sense of purpose because you did what you had to do to survive, and everyone had their role. Back then you didn’t have $300 Justin Bieber tickets, $400 iPhones, or a barrage of other prices tags to navigate through on a daily basis. Instead, stripped down to it’s core, life simply was what it was.
As fun as it would be to see a glimpse of that time period, this week leaves me wishing for another glimpse, or rather another shot, at a different moment in time. Twelve years ago, when I was sixteen, a woman hired me to work at her restaurant. My parents had recently been imprisoned and I was failing at all of my attempts to pick up the pieces left in the aftermath. It didn’t take long for her to see the need for a parent figure in my life and even less time for her to step into that role. It wasn’t long before she was giving me days off to spend with her family. Sometimes I would spend the night at her house and the next day we’d all take a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to spend the day at Dollywood. It was she that took me to an emergency clinic when I had been sick with pneumonia for nearly a month and was in very bad shape. I remember how she pulled my brother and sister into her office to scold them for not taking better care of me. When Renee and I began dating, she insisted that we stop by the restaurant before Prom so she could take pictures of us. Mostly, I remember how she rooted for me. That period in my life lasted for two years.
Unfortunately, we parted ways on a less than perfect note. Because of her shortcomings I took her for granted and allowed myself to harbor a resentment, which if I was being totally honest truly should have been aimed at my real parents. Because of those unresolved emotions I would never see her again. On Friday I learned that she passed away. I wish that I could have told her how much I needed someone like her in my life, how important it was that she was there, and how much I appreciated it. She came along at the right moment in my life and assumed responsibilities for which she had no obligations.
If I could witness a moment in the past, and perhaps alter something in the slightest way, it would be to go back to that point in my life twelve years ago. I would make sure to thank her for all she did for me. And I would definitely not take her for granted.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.