When Time Is Limited, We Focus Less on Escaping It

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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I don’t remember when I started measuring my life in increments of time. But I feel the seconds slipping through my fingers. I think about using quantum mechanics to split myself in two so that I can be at sea and with my parents at the same time. Why is it that in order to be where we are, we have to give up being elsewhere? Time escapes us while we try to escape from it.

And yet science says that we become happier as time runs out. Maybe alleviating the pressures associated with the future allows us to live in the present. The second hand on the clock reminds us to wake up and prioritize as if we’re not going to live forever. And how we spend our time becomes more intentional when we stop treating it like a limitless commodity.

Exploring the wanderlust

I’ve always been a traveler, measuring myself in the moments between foreign places. I grew up hearing about my dad’s early life as a sailor. He told me about a time when he was on the ocean: Once when he sat down at the mess table to split his potatoes, he found live worms inside. But he was so hungry that he picked out the wriggling creatures and ate the potatoes anyway.

While I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of eating wormy potatoes, I did want a life full of adventure. I wanted to experience the open water, savoring the taste of sea salt. I wanted to live quickly, speeding from place to place until I was filled to the brim with new ideas. My dad passed his wanderlust to me.

Putting the wanderlust on hold

One morning, between sips of coffee, he spilled his heart onto the table: “Mary Beth,” he said, “when my Parkinson’s gets bad, I want you to come home.”

Words got stuck in my throat. My first reaction was anger. I couldn’t see beyond my own initial thoughts. You’re asking your most transient child to take roots? You, more than anyone, understand my lifestyle and you want me to forfeit faraway places to come home?

I thought he was asking me to be a caregiver because he knows me to be nurturing. There was always a quiet part of me that knew I’d come home when it was time. But my dad’s expectations were cumbersome, heavy in my mind. It took me a long time to realize that it’s because of my transience that he asked me to come home.

How history repeats itself

It wasn’t until I thought about my dad’s journey with my grandpa that the pieces clicked into place. Grandpa died while my dad was at sea. Like the ocean waves beneath the freighter, the news knocked my dad off his feet. He’d never have the chance to say goodbye, to bare his soul, or to soften his words. Separated by the sea, he’d run out of time with his own father.

I wondered if asking me to come home was a way for him to protect me from the loss. He didn’t want me to suffer the same fate, aching thousands of miles away from home while he boarded his last ship. He just wanted me to be home for a specific moment in time, ensuring that I wouldn’t live with the regret of being away.

I still wander, filling my soul with the call of distant places. I am my father’s daughter, driven to collect ocean sand in the crevices of my toes. Only now, I make it a point to come home and check in. I allow less time to slip through my fingers. I pick up the phone and dial his number. And I wait for him to suggest that it’s time to come home again.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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