Advice from Meyer Wolfsheim

That name in the title might ring a bell. He is a character in F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby”. Love it or hate it, the book is now standard curriculum in most American high schools.

Some are swept away by the romance, many are turned off by the callous heartlessness of characters who we want to be better, and even more are awed by the excesses of the 1920s. Others simply can’t stand the book – each has their own reason.

Do you remember Meyer Wolfsheim? He was the Mafia man who “fixed the 1919 World Series” and wore human molars on his tie and cufflinks. His most famous quote is a throwaway line from the end but it hits me like a punch in the gut every time I hear it.

“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not wait until after he is dead.”

These words have been heavy on my mind lately. In the hours after the shooting in Las Vegas I frantically tried to get a hold of a friend who lives there. She was actually in Pennsylvania visiting the week prior but our schedules didn’t work out and I didn’t get to talk to her. I was frantic thinking that she might have been hurt or dead and I didn’t work hard enough to reconnect with her. Thank heavens I heard from her and she’s fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking about all the “What Ifs”.

I realized that I am ridiculously blessed with so many friends and family members and I don’t tell them enough how much I love them. I’m talking more than just a “Like” on Facebook or a quippy little text. Am I alone or have you too ever worried over something like this?

Like my GF in Las Vegas. She’s amazing. She works so hard and is so strong and funny. I admire her sense of humor. I love her zeal for travelling and Japan. I love her stories. We’ve been connected/disconnected/reconnected since I was 14. I value her so much and I don’t remember the last time I told her as such. We’re thousands of miles away but when we talk it’s like time and distance erase. She’s my sister from another mister.

And she’s not the only one. There’s my friend who I fight with over the title of “Worst Mother Ever.” My college spud who I’ve been playing Messenger tag with trying to make a date to get together. My work husband who bought me a bag of coffee supplies for when he sends a student down to my room with the big Batman coffee mug I bought him. My writer/fiber arts/songstress friend who I haven’t seen since August and that’s just a sin. I don’t tell these people enough how much I cherish them. How much I need their positivity and light in my life. A change needs to happen and it has to come from me. I don’t want to shuffle off this mortal coil (which isn’t going to be anytime soon, I hope) without letting my loved ones know the joy they bring me every damned day.

I want to take Meyer Wolfsheim’s advice and show them my friendship while we’re all here and not when it’s too late. I don’t know where I’m going to start; probably with a list and move on from there. Spreading love isn’t a chore, however. It will be an investment in affection. A polishing of the treasure in my life.


Karen Padden

Karen, Queen of the Paddens and first of her name. Teacher, Baker, Petter of Cats, Multiple Sneezer and Crocheter of Wubbies. Believes in kindness, always.

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