29 November 2015

My dad turned 75 today

Tonight was a pretty cool night — Vanessa and I had dinner at a favorite local Italian joint with my parents and several of their good friends, in celebration of my Dad's 75th birthday.

I feel pretty lucky to have my father, and to have a good relationship with him. I know plenty of people my age (36) who've lost their parents, or whose parents are in failing health; I'm happy to report that my parents are both very healthy and enjoying their retirement to the fullest with travel, volunteer work, friends, family, exercise, hobbies, and leisure. My dad's as sharp as he's ever been, politically opinionated (democrat til the end!), full of anecdotes and fond of corny dad-humor. As I've gotten older, I've felt increasingly appreciative of the time I have to spend with him.

Tonight he made a short (for him) speech about his life, how surreal it feels to be 75, and the many sublime moments he's experienced along the way. He mentioned meeting my mom, getting choked up remembering "the day she said yes"; he mentioned seeing my brother marry his wife, and me marrying Vanessa several years later. But what was most interesting for me was that he talked about all the small miracles, as he described him, that he's privileged to enjoy every day. Waking up next to his wife, watching Penn State football (that's where he got his doctorate in the late 60s), any day he gets to go fishing, the people he volunteers with, etc. etc.
My Dad and me at my wedding. It still seems weird seeing myself without a beard. 
MY DAD AND ME AT MY WEDDING. IT STILL SEEMS WEIRD SEEING MYSELF WITHOUT A BEARD. 
My dad is at that point in his life where there is more behind him than ahead. We'll all get there, hopefully after a long and happy trek through this mortal coil. But even at 36, I've found that my outlook on life has changed a great deal, particular since I got married last year. Increasingly I've found life to be about the day to day things, the little moments and pleasures we're afforded, rather than any sort of major life goals.

I can't tell you how many years (all of them?) I hoped to meet the right woman. I spent my twenties and early thirties dating lots of women, a couple of times thinking I'd found 'the one'. Now that I'm married, it's somewhat surreal to have something I've wanted since I was old enough to have some vague understanding of what romantic love is. I've also found success in my career after going freelance, following nearly a decade of working for a meager income. And now, Vanessa and I are opening our very own gym. We have two dogs and cat, a pretty cool mid-century modern house, a mutual love of cooking, and... well, we don't need much else. Life is good. And while, unlike my father, I still (hopefully) still have more time on the clock ahead than behind, I think that I can appreciate his perspective. If we forget to live in the present, it's all too easy to let it slip away.

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