The semi-professional blog of Albert Ciuksza Jr.

A Blink

In January of 2011, I was at an exhilarating point in my life. I was in the first three months of a new relationship with my now wife, halfway to an MBA, and getting a new company off the ground. Given all of the time-related 2020 jokes, the experience feels like a hundred years ago. It also feels like yesterday.

A blink.

Staring at the calendar, this January 6th, the year of our Lord 2021, I’m blinking.

Ten years ago, today, around noon, I received a call from my mom. She had been crying. She told me that my father had died that morning as they were having their coffee. He asked her what time it was. She turned to look at the clock. As she turned back, he fell out of his chair, lifelessly.

A blink.

There was a flight home to El Paso. A funeral and wake orchestrated and paid for by our Church. Reconnecting with friends who came out of the woodwork to be supportive. Funeral homes and obituaries and lingering family grievance. Taking down the Christmas tree as my mom and aunt watched, none of us quite knowing what to say, but knowing that the experience was profoundly affecting. Leaving my mother behind to fend for herself as I continued my life in Pittsburgh, not knowing how the future would play out.

A blink.

It was a year of blinks. My car was t-boned while parked in front of my grandmother’s house in February. My mom had a heart attack in March, passing days before her 60th birthday in April. I returned to the place where I grew up in May to deal with the estate issues and informally say goodbye to my childhood. My grandmother fell in June, resulting in a fractured hip that contributed to her death in September. My attempts to blow off steam through pick-up flag football in October ended in a shredded knee, followed by surgery on 11/11/11 and a blood clot that had me thinking that 2011 might take me with it, too. After six weeks of crutches, I was allowed to walk again on December 23rd.

So many blinks.

That year astounds me. I struggle to fathom how something that feels so far away can feel like yesterday. It’s hard for me to understand that I had professional advancement, academic success, and continued on the path to a happy marriage while marinating in sadness and grief. And it is so surreal to remember snippets of that year, both high and low, as if they’re random scenes of film on the cutting room floor.

A series of loosely-connected blinks.

I know it’s easy to thumb our noses at the year we just lived. The experience is the embodiment of why “may you live in interesting times” is a curse. And yet, like so many other parts of our past, we’ll one day look back on it with fondness. We’ll marvel at how it “feels like yesterday.”

More blinks.

My mom had two lines she said often.

“These are the good-old-days” and “don’t wish your life away.”

She was right. It’s all just a blink.

3 Comments

  1. Rita Sillas

    That was very well said, to have those great memories makes me wonder what happened to all our church family and friends, with a blink they all slowly moved on or away with very few words to say we will see you. I understand d with a heavy heart what you are saying, life now is harder then before but I try and make the best of things. Wish you a wonderful year to come and may God contutor bless you, you will always be remembered take care of yourself and be safe.

  2. Jill Little. Amoroso

    Chick dear cousin
    What you have written gives me so much appreciation for my life
    The love of friends and family
    Your Grandma Hobart inspired me many times
    My brother Paul speaks fondly of your Mom
    Beautiful he says
    Your Dad also is remembered by my brother
    Good man he says
    So yes your Mom as my Mom now 94
    Said the same
    My dear Jill it all passes in a blink of an eye
    Yesterday you were 8 now your 58
    We have been blessed
    Love to you and your beautiful wife

  3. Rose Mathews

    Seems like just yesterday Sharon & I spent an hour on the phone talking about so many things including being or not being “room mothers”. It was a just yesterday, Al & Greg talked to Father Juvy about the new church – St. Stephen. Just yesterday, we built our house on Gene Sarazen & you would come over to cut our lawn. Just yesterday, Al bought Ashley balloons on her birthday’cause she was home sick on her birthday & nobody should be home sick on her birthday. Just yesterday, we moved away from EP to start a new life in Gallatin, Tn. It will was 25 years ago. And it was just yesterday when I was with Greg when he passed away. Sharon was there to listen to me at 2:00 am telling her how my life had changed forever as well as our children’s lives. She was a great friend & I miss her sorely. Al was always there whenever I needed anything. Greg was the love of my life. Too many loses. Too much heartbreak but life goes on & we must be strong. Life is still good.
    Love to you & yours, Chick.

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