The vibrancy of memories shines in the reflective eye of 90-something Elliot Schubert. In The Time of Our Lives: Memories and Fantasies of a Blissful Nonagenarian, Schubert reminds us that we are nothing without our thoughts of the past, and that the hands of time move ever onward — whether we like it or not. His stories, overflowing with love and humor, touch both heart and mind with insights that cut across ages. Whether you are a millennial, a Generation-Xer, or a traveler from the Age of Aquarius, you’ll find uplifting glimpses into the human condition here — in this resonant and joyful celebration of a long life lived. The Time of Our Lives echoes those chimes of the heart that defy the inexorable tread of minutes and years.
After my dad took early retirement in 1983 to fulfill my mom’s lifelong dream of living in California, he turned his creative energies and professional writing skills to chronicling a life that spanned the experiences of late 19th century refugees from Eastern Europe, the Depression, the Second World War, the Golden Age of the Fifties and Sixties, and the looming clouds of the Seventies and Eighties. With my dad’s prodigious memory and eye for detail, the stories gradually evolved from pure recollection to finely crafted allegories of the human condition. His singular intuitive ability to connect various events lent a unique and intricate texture to the stories.
The present collection reflects the blend of truth and fantasy that is pivotal to my dad’s persona. Some of the stories have only a passing relationship to reality. He and my mom really did leave their beloved cockatiel behind as described in “The Bird and I” and “Nice N’ Easy,” but they dealt with its subsequent despondency in less drastic ways. “The Jordans,” a morality tale of sex and religion, stems from my dad’s reveries after intimate lunchtime revelations by a colleague. “The Miracle of St. Peter’s,” a parable on a similar theme, came to my dad as he was visiting the basilica in Rome. “The Inheritance” is an alternate take on his aunt, who lived to the age of one hundred and was a rock of stability in a talented but mercurial family. “Barnaby’s Grandson” is a whimsical look at my dad’s longing for second-generation progeny.
The events of our lives transform the past, and the role of storytelling, whatever its measure of objective truth, is to heighten our awareness of eternity in the fleeting perceptions of daily experience. I hope that this collection will brighten and deepen your days in that very special way.