Dr. Who - Tardis in space/time

“Well, hello good son. Where did the time go?”

Time Travel

If you’re not a fan of the science fiction series Dr. Who, you’re probably wondering about the image at the top of this story.

Yes, it does look like something you might find on a London street corner in the late 1800s. And yes, it does appear to be spinning through the cosmos.

Pardon me - what’s up with that?

Dr. Who is a Time Lord - a time traveler - and the police box (the Tardis) is his time machine. While the Tardis could take on many shapes, it seems however, that a faulty chameleon circuit keeps the Tardis stuck in the form of a police box.

Kind of ironic isn’t it? A Time Lord who can control where and when in eternity he  goes to ‘fix’ history, but he can’t fix a circuit on his own ship. (Note: the Tardis IS much larger on the inside.)

Where did my time go?

Ok, I just figured it out. My last post was on June 23, 2015. That was five days after my dad passed away. Today is July 13, 2018. That’s a little more than three years. Or more precisely you could measure it one of these ways:

  • 159 weeks and 4 days
  • 1,117 days
  • 26,808 hours
  • 1,608,480 minutes
  • 96,508,800 seconds

Now count to yourself … “One-thousand and one, one-thousand and … .”

Have a feel now for how long a second is? Great. Multiply that by 96 million.

Seems like a lot of time.

Not really.

So where did it go?

  • settling my dad's estate
  • fixing up our house in Cary, NC & selling it
  • building a smaller house in Fuquay-Varina NC, then moving in
  • family vacations at Topsail beach
  • trips to Iowa, Florida, & New Orleans
  • college reunion at ISU in Ames IA
  • saying goodbye to my dog Faith
  • saying goodbye to Aunt Joyce & Aunt Shirley
  • riding RAGBRAI
  • a cruise with Cin down the Rhine river in Europe
  • family dinners, birthdays, teaching, working

So, what’s the rub?

It went by in the blink of an eye.

Where did Dad's time go?

My dad was my best friend. And as best friends do, we’d discuss different topics and often leave each other with something to think about.

In the last 6-8 weeks of his life, Dad pretty much quit eating & drinking. I’d sit by his bed as he’d have conversations with imaginary (I think) people, and fade in & out of sleep. Towards the end he might not notice I’d spent the whole day in his room. That was ok; he was there (kind of) and I was there. That’s all that mattered.

About two days before he finally passed away, we were both in our normal positions - he was physically in bed but mentally somewhere out in the cosmos. Me? I was in the chair beside his bed tapping on my laptop.

Then I looked up. He was looking right back at me. Big grin on his thin face, he shifted in his hospital gown, lifted a frail hand, and waved in my direction (I was maybe two feet from his side).

“Well hello there good son!”

Kind of startled, but pleasantly surprised, I replied.

“Well hello there Dad! Nice to have you back.”

He chucked with a wry smile, the way he often did, and then turned contemplative.

“What’cha thinkin' Dad?”

That’s when he did it; he left me with something to think about.

He had a puzzled look on his face, not worried but actually quite at peace, a more inquisitive expression actually. I’ve seen it a million times when he was deep in thought.

He turned his head, eyes bright and alert - certainly present in the moment - smiled, and said to me slowly “Where did the time go?”

When he said that I closed the lid on my laptop, thought for a moment, then looking back at him said something like “I don’t know Dad. It just seems to go by really quick doesn’t it?”

He nodded, said nothing, then turned his head back towards the foot of his bed. Less than a minute later he was snoring again. I’m guessing he headed back to do some more cosmic exploring.

Those were the last words he said to me. Seriously. The last words. Two days later he passed away.

Darn it Dad!! You had to be a dad didn’t you - leave me with one last thing to think about … for the rest of my LIFE!!!!  Argh!

Tell me doctor, where are we going this time?

It may sound like Dad made me upset. Quite the contrary. It was a blessing, and probably the best gift he ever gave me. Leave it to Dad to give me five words which will stick around in my head for decades.

I’m still trying to figure out the answer to his question. Maybe for him, maybe for myself.

I know a person who wrote his own obituary. He’s still very much alive. Why did he write it now? Because no one else would get it right when it was needed.

Why would you want to limit your life before you’re done living it?

I don’t think I’m ready to do that yet.

But when I see Dad again, I hope I can look him in the eye, smile, and say “Hey Dad, I figured it out."

Category: Stories
Topics: Life Lessons, People
Tags: Lowell Foster


  1. Cin on 2018-07-13 at 8:49 pm

    🙂 – 2 of my favorite men.

  2. Robin on 2018-07-17 at 3:12 am

    I love your thoughts about Lowell! And certainly your devotion. While st the beach I read a book he gave me and had been thinking about him. A remarkable man…and a similarly remarkable son! Thanks for sharing him with us.

    • Doug on 2018-07-17 at 1:05 pm

      Thx Robin. I think he’d smile if he heard people still thought of him years after he was gone.

  3. Amber on 2018-07-17 at 3:35 am

    A wise man told me once to not blink because my life could and would change in a moment. One day I would look back and finally start to understand all of those crazy things my parents said such as, “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” I mean when I was 13 I couldn’t possible imagine how getting my privileges taken away could possibly hurt them more than it hurt me. Now, as a mom I shell out the same hard love and even laughed one day when I told my own child those same exact words. I’ve grown up and now my children are slowly doing the same. One thing remains the same, those parents of mine still watch out for me and take care of me just as they always have. One day my hope is that my children will be able to look back the same as I have and realize, my parents actually do love me more than I could ever ever possibly imagine! Grandpa Lowell will always be missed but I am thankful that he bestowed all of his wise thoughts and funny stories to you so that you could pass along his legacy and share them with us too.

    • Doug on 2018-07-17 at 1:10 pm

      Thx Am. Dad once told me “At the end we’re not remembered by our things, were remembered by our children & loved ones.” Kinda hard not to remember that guy. 🙂

  4. Patrick Regan on 2019-09-09 at 12:17 am

    Two great people you and your dad. I helped build 100 homes in Mexico for people in poverty. No water no electricity! We only built in the winter with fellow park
    members wintering in the Rio Grand valley. We had an interpreter who sold machine tools in MX. We went over to MX in the fall when he returned and this Mexican mother came running out to greet us and said to him, “thank you, we were warm and we were dry”. Let that soak in real good. When we would cross over the Rio Grand after a days work I told my friends in the truck “need” sure has a different meaning on each side of the river. God blessed me with this opportunity to open my eyes and appreciate what I have. I have been blessed in so many ways. Love and miss you, Pat