Let me start by explaining that I am a widower with four grown daughters. All of them are talented, loving, bright, achievement-oriented young women. For this, I am grateful. For the most part, they are focused on their careers, their partners, and the daily stresses of their own life. There is one exception. That is when Dad comes to visit, and I become the focus of their not-always-entirely-welcomed scrutiny, and efforts to do a Dad makeover in a day!
On a recent visit to my daughter’s house in Saratoga Springs, in Upstate N.Y. for the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to visit with my two middle daughters. One is a life coach, and the other a teacher. Both have lots of advice for dear old Dad! I probably should not have complained about my sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and other sundry annoyances of an increasingly post-middle age existence.
Since my wife died, my daughters often act as parents in reverse. Without a wife to nag or cajole me, my daughters have taken up the cudgel! I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only because they love me!
I’ve gotten lessons on nutrition, temperance, fitness, scheduling and partnering. Since old habits die hard, I have heard, but not heeded, much of this before. For some reason, I was a little more receptive this time.
Maybe it is because of my advancing years. Maybe it’s because I am mostly retired and have more time to listen. Or maybe it’s because I have a Medicare milestone birthday coming up. I am reminded of that daily by junk mail solicitation for Medicare Supplementary health plans. Must be the government is so desperate for money these days, that they sell their upcoming eligible lists to telemarketers!
The way I put it to them was, “Listen girls, my plane is still flying, but the runway is getting shorter.”
“Well, Dad”, responded one. “It’s time to lengthen your runway!”
Boom! She hit pay dirt! What was it Mickey Mantle once said? “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!” Mickey was a smart guy!
Too bad he had four sons instead of four daughters. If he did, perhaps his runway might have been extended, too!
So now that I am back home in Kansas, it’s time to start making lists for runway repair and extension.
So here goes: I promise to love more, listen better, eat less, laugh a lot, write more, and organize a daily bucket list. ’Cause you never know when the runway you are landing on might be shorter than you think. Oh … And I promise to always be there on the other end of the phone line when they need a Dad for everyday advice, cheering and bucking them up, and just listening without always trying to fix it.
Somehow though, I think the parental role reversals will increase until I get my aircraft refueled, re-tooled, and ready to fly further. That way, hopefully I can avoid too much turbulence. Not a bad everyday life goal, eh?
Best of all. It’s just good to know they care. So, today is the best first day of the rest of my life! And a healthy and Happy Holiday to all of you!
By John T. Sullivan Jr.