Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Most Devastating Betrayal

          We suffer betrayals throughout our lives, and generally come to understand their reasons and even accept them: A school chum tattles on us to save his own behind; a sweetheart is completely smitten by another and “young love” is crushed; a co-worker sees a chance to improve his (and therefore his family’s) prospects, and makes us the scape goat for his ambitions. We’ve all known these betrayals, and perhaps been guilty of much the same kind of offense against others. And betrayal brings it’s own repercussions that “even up” most scores. Eventually we see the betrayer’s reason, and forgive the offense, however grudgingly.

          But the cruelest, most intimate and devastating of all is the betrayal from within. Most youngsters haven’t the vaguest of clues as to what I might be saying, but the slightly older among us have begun the process of waking to the crushing assault. It comes from within us: our own bodies attack our selves and our worlds with the stealth of a military operation: One day you find your arms are just not long enough to read a letter or bill in the mail; you find yourself stopping to rub a cranky knee or elbow that has never bothered you before. One day a doctor tells you to start taking this or that medicine because your annual tests suggest a problem that you’ve never felt or been aware of. Your body has started (subtly at first) to abandon you. It is exacting it’s revenge for too many smokes, too many drinks, too many skipped meals in favor of sweets or stimulants.

          Then the day comes when you’re told your pancreas has started to break down and diabetes is in the frame. Or you have a heart attack and it hits you that that’s a too-accurate description: Your heart has attacked you, as mine did years ago. And you realize this as if through a flash of light, and you feel completely and utterly BETRAYED by your body – your self. The idea that this meer extension of yourself could not only let you down but actually endanger your wellbeing and your life suddenly slaps you in the face. “I’m really not indestructible! I could really DIE from this! The feeling is not one of fear or one of anger. It manifests itself as a stark epiphany of the ultimate betrayal and changes your view of the world forever. For me it’s knowing I can no longer drive a golf ball well past 250 yards: I can no longer trust my body to react to an outside assault on me or my wife while in public; I can’t even simply walk here and there while my worthless pile of Jeep is in the shop – legs just won’t make it! And for my pal Dudley it’s knowing that his gruff, blustering manner is fooling no-one. He can’t get his way by simply insisting, because people just see him as an ill-mannered old man.

          Many, many things have been written about this aging experience, but it’s the being let down, being betrayed by the one entity on earth you could always count on to support you that is the ultimate betrayal. In my mind I’m a slightly overweight, athletic man who can put the clubhead on the ball at just the right point in the swing to send the ball soaring to the green. The fact is that I’m a grossly obese 72-year-old man whose right foot slaps when he walks  (botched tendon surgery) and whose knees have lost the ability to flex and support that swing while his arthritic hands errantly guide the clubhead in any random direction for no apparent reason. (I still love the game, of course. I just can’t hope to play it with anything like consistency and skill.) That, too, is a betrayal by my body, but one not so directly related to my own survival and wellbeing. It just pisses me off.

          I think the trick , here, is to know and accept the betrayal not as a betrayal at all, but as a sign that we’ve used-up our bodies in the process of living our lives (however irresponsibly) and what remains to us is still worth using well.

          vince katarzynski


Perpetual Anticipation

          I found Dud frozen in his living room the other day. No, not physically frozen to death, even though the outside temps were in the minus digits. He was just   staring into space, a glassy look on his face. When I asked what he was doing, he said: “Waiting.” “Waiting for what?” I asked. “Anything; something; I don’t really know. Just waiting.” And I had to admit I understood his meaning.

          It is an odd thing, but having recently moved from our home town to a new environment entirely, we seem to be in a constant state of waiting for the next thing to come along. Now, these are usually good things: A birthday party; a dinner planned for weeks; a visit to a nearby town for a meeting with loved-ones from far enough away that a “meeting place” between becomes practical; doctor’s appointments or tests; etc. There seems never to be a time when there isn’t something coming up that will require attention. And in new surroundings, a new town and new State, there is much more of the air of adventure involved than would ever be involved in the old familiar stomping grounds.

          Even as I write this, I’m waiting to hear about the fate of my old pile of Jeep as it sits in a garage waiting to be checked. It didn’t start again last night, necessitating another call to Triple A. Then a call to my son to beg a ride home while I wait to hear the news. This is the same car, you’ll understand, that wouldn’t start in December and had a new starter put in as a result. And it didn’t start  again  about 2-or-3 weeks ago. That time the tow-driver did me the favor of playing around until he got it to start, so that the garage mechanic couldn’t trace the problem in a car the started fine. Finally, this time I threatened tantrum and even bodily harm if the tow-truck driver tried to “fix” anything before the garage looked at it. All I have to do now is wait for them to call.

          And through all of this I am waiting to find out how recent efforts to re-organize new living arrangements and pay down some bills will effect my plans for summer visits and (hopefully) arrange a Kflembeauski Tournament this year. (For those who don’t know, that tournament is a golf outing I invented years ago to get my family – the Katarzynskis, Beaumonts and Flemings – together for a day of golf and dinner and general fun when they are scattered farther afield each year. It works some years because time off works out, and sadly not other years because of outside obligations.) Waiting to find out if the tourney will happen is the biggest nail-biter of the current year, since it’s been FOUR years since we competed. Grandson Cory won that one, and currently still possesses the coveted Kflembeauski Cup – a used ice cream bowl that I bought in Waterford, Pa. so it could be called Waterford crystal.

          Finally, those of you silly enough to anticipate and even (dare I say it) wait for my next posting, have done me the great honor of waiting for this little message. For that I thank you, and if you haven’t really been “waiting” as such please let me go on thinking you might.

vince katarzynski