Just by chance I discovered that in a couple of weeks my father will be 35,000 days old. Such an astonishing number of days should not go unacknowledged, so I’ve been trying to figure out various ways of illustrating that vast number of days.
I thought of giving him a jar of 35,000 bits of confetti in recognition of his days, but confetti comes in ounce packages, and I am not about to count out 35,000 pieces of anything. Can you imagine counting out 34,895 and then losing your place? Admittedly, I could count what was in one package and extrapolate from that how many packages I’d need, but still, there are a lot of pieces in those bags, and anyway, confetti has no significance to his life.
Perhaps give him 35,000 pennies? But 35,000 pennies would be 700 rolls, cost $350.00, and would weigh 210 pounds.
Perhaps licorice jelly beans? Considering that there are approximately 400 Jelly Belly jelly beans in a pound, I would need almost 88 pounds and at 8 dollars per pound, they would cost $704. Freight, however, would be free.
Perhaps personalized M&Ms? But 35,000 of them would cost more than $1,725, excluding freight. And anyway, they would just go to waste. He hates M&Ms.
He does like Snickers bars, so I considered sending him 35,000 calories of the candy, but that would be 125 bars. Since he’s almost 96 years old, it would take him the rest of his life to eat that many candy bars, and they would get stale long before then.
Perhaps 35 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles? But his fingers don’t work that well to manipulate those pieces, his eyesight is bad, and he never liked doing jigsaw puzzles. (Now, if my mother were still alive, I could get them for him and let her work them.)
In the end, I decided to print and cut out 35,000 copies of his initials, each one representing a day on this earth. Will take me about 12 hours to cut all of those bits of paper, but what the heck. It’s a wonderfully symbolic gesture.
I’ll also decorate the house, or at least his breakfast nook, to surprise him. (I haven’t mentioned the 35,000 days date to him, and if any of my siblings ruin the surprise, I will never forgive them.)
Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+