Tag Archives: Dads

9 Rows to Oar If You Want to Reach 94

November yale467x490

(*happily updating my original post from February, 2015 when my Dad had his 92nd birthday. Now it is nearly February 1, 2017 – his 94th!)

Better to have a birthday than not, says my Dad very matter-of-factly. Consider the alternative, he often tells me.  He will celebrate his 94th birthday this Wednesday, February 1.

His pragmatic approach to life – serious when he needs to be, humorous when not, and some great luck in the health department – has gotten him to this milestone.

But exactly how has he managed to reach it?

I thought about this and wondered. For this is a man whose idea of exercise is to lift the remote ever so slightly to aim it at the TV. He eats salami, drinks beer and sees his friend, the doctor, quite frequently – but for lunch, rather than for a check-up.  As a well-regarded-in-his-community lawyer who still goes to the office every day to the firm he founded in 1951, he strongly prefers to give  – rather than take advice.

Perhaps what keeps him going is his love for his family? – not that I have ever heard him say the word “love” aloud.

A tough guy, Mr. U.S. Marine Corps, WWII Vet, he shies away from emotion. But he shows it by his actions, always being there with wise counsel when my sister and I need it. Staying strong for us when our Mom died far too young. Taking great joy in his four grandchildren, his three-year-old and nearly one-year-old great-grandsons  – and bestowing tender care upon his wife, my stepmother, as her dementia sadly advances.

If I knew precisely what got him to this point of great age and great wisdom, I would bottle it and win a Nobel prize. But since that is extremely unlikely to happen, I decided, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, a childhood favorite, to make an educated guess, and offer the following:

 

9 Rows To Oar If You Want to Reach 94

It is not easy to turn 94

You have to know how to soar.

First, you stay married for a very long time

And Second, be frugal and save every nickel and dime.


The Third thing to try is to go to the office every day

And on the weekends to watch Eli athletes at play.

For the Fourth, you must get the Sunday New York Times

 To do the puzzle speedily, in ink, no matter what the rhymes.


And the Fifth thing to be at your best?

Take regular naps, enjoy getting your rest.

Sixth? Call your “kids” every Sunday morning at 10:30. sharp

But keep the calls brief, you don’t want to carp.

 


Now we are at number Seven, which could keep heaven at bay

Find time for the spiritual, perhaps even pray.

And the Eighth, what could that possibly be?

Provide wise counsel for many without charging a fee.

 

But the Ninth thing, the one that we treasure the most?

It’s when you tell jokes, laugh loudly, even at your own roast.

For it is your humor, your sense of the absurd

That lets you stand out from the ordinary herd.


Repeat all of your stories, not one of them is new

And yet each time you tell them we get another view.

Of your fair-minded approach, your sense of what’s right

The battles to skip, and which ones to fight.

 

So there you have it, the Nine rows you must oar,

If you want to reach the wise old age of 94.

Take my advice if you want to become a sage like my Dad

And then what a glorious life you will have had.

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Filed under Aging, Aging Parents, Family, Lawyers, Moms, Relationships

9 Ways To Be If You Want to Turn 93

November yale467x490

(*happily updating this original post from February, 2015 when my Dad had his 92nd birthday. Now February, 2016 – his 93rd!)

Better to have a birthday than not, says my Dad very matter-of-factly. Consider the alternative, he often tells me.  He celebrated his 93rd birthday this Monday, February 1.

His pragmatic approach to life – serious when he needs to be, humorous when not, and some great luck in the health department – has gotten him to this milestone.

But exactly how has he managed to reach it?

I thought about this and wondered. For this is a man whose idea of exercise is to lift the remote ever so slightly to aim it at the TV. He eats salami, drinks beer and sees his friend, the doctor, for lunch, rather than for a check-up.  As a lawyer who still goes to the office every day to the firm he founded in 1951, he strongly prefers to give  – rather than take advice.

Perhaps what keeps him going is his love for his family? – not that I have ever heard him say the word “love” aloud.

A tough guy, Mr. U.S. Marine Corps, WWII Vet, he shies away from emotion. But he shows it by his actions, always being there with wise counsel when my sister and I need it. Staying strong for us when our Mom died young. Taking joy in his four grandchildren, his toddler great-grandson – and looking forward to the arrival of another great-grand child next month.  Bestowing tender care upon his wife, my stepmother, as her dementia sadly advances.

If I knew precisely what got him to this point of great age and great wisdom, I would bottle it and win a Nobel prize. But since that is extremely unlikely to happen, I decided, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, a childhood favorite, to make an educated guess, and offer the following:

 

9 Ways To Be If You Want to Turn 93

It is not easy to turn 93

You have to know just how to be.

First, you stay married for a very long time

And Second, be frugal and save every nickel and dime.


The Third thing to try is to go to the office every day

And on the weekends to watch Eli athletes at play.

For the Fourth, you must get the Sunday New York Times

 To do the puzzle speedily, in ink, no matter what the rhymes.


And the Fifth thing to be at your best?

Take regular naps, enjoy getting your rest.

Sixth? Call your kids every Sunday at 10:30. sharp

But keep the calls brief, you don’t want to carp.

 


Now we are at number Seven, which could keep heaven at bay

Find time for the spiritual, perhaps even pray.

And the Eighth, what could that possibly be?

Provide wise counsel for many without charging a fee.

 

But the Ninth thing, the one that we treasure the most?

It’s when you tell jokes, laugh loudly, even at your own roast.

For it is your humor, your sense of the absurd

That lets you stand out from the ordinary herd.


Repeat all of your stories, not one of them is new

And yet each time you tell them we get another view.

Of your fair-minded approach, your sense of what’s right

The battles to skip, and which ones to fight.

 

So there you have it, the Nine things you must be.

If you want to reach the wise old age of 93

Take my advice if you want to become a sage like my Dad

And then what a glorious life you will have had.

18 Comments

Filed under Aging, Aging Parents, Family, Lawyers, Moms, Relationships

9 Things To Do If You Want To Turn 92

November yale467x490

Better to have a birthday than not, says my Dad very matter-of-factly. Consider the alternative, he often tells me.  His 92nd birthday is this Sunday, February 1.  (and yes, it does fall on SuperBowl Sunday, perhaps not a coincidence.)

His pragmatic approach to life – serious when he needs to be, humorous when not, and some great luck in the health department – has gotten him to this milestone.

But exactly how has he managed to reach it?

I thought about this and wondered. For this is a man whose idea of exercise is to lift the remote ever so slightly to aim it at the TV. He eats salami, drinks beer and sees his doctor for lunch, rather than for a check-up.  As a lawyer who still goes to the office every day to the firm he founded in 1951, he strongly prefers to give  – rather than take advice.

Perhaps what keeps him going is his love for his family? – not that I have ever heard him actually say the word “love” aloud.

A tough guy, Mr. U.S. Marine Corps, WWII Vet, he shies away from emotion. But he shows it by his actions, always being there with wise counsel when my sister and I need it. Staying strong for us when our Mom died young. Taking joy in his four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one toddler great-grandson. And now taking tender care of his wife, my stepmother, as her dementia sadly advances.

If I knew precisely what got him to this point of great age and great wisdom, I would bottle it and win a Nobel prize. But since that is extremely unlikely to happen, I decided, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, a childhood favorite, to make an educated guess, and offer the following:

 

9 Things To Do If You Want to Turn 92

It is not easy to turn 92

You have to know just what to do.

First, you stay married for a very long time

And Second, be frugal and save every nickel and dime.


The Third thing to try is to go to the office every day

And on the weekends to watch Eli athletes at play.

For the Fourth, you must get the Sunday New York Times

 To do the puzzle speedily, in ink, no matter what the rhymes.


And the Fifth thing to do to be at your best?

Take regular naps, enjoy getting your rest.

Sixth? Call your kids every Sunday at 10:30. sharp

But keep the calls brief, you don’t want to carp.

 


Now we are at number Seven, which could keep heaven at bay

Find time for the spiritual, perhaps even pray.

And the Eighth, what could that possibly be?

Provide counsel for many, without charging a fee.

 

But the Ninth thing, the one that we treasure the most?

It’s when you tell jokes, laugh loudly, even at your own roast.

For it is your humor, your sense of the absurd

That lets you stand out from the ordinary herd.


Repeat all of your stories, not one of them is new

And yet each time you tell them we get another view.

Of your fair-minded approach, your sense of what’s right

The battles to skip, and which ones to fight.

 

So there you have it, the Nine things to do

If you want to reach the wise old age of 92.

Take my advice if you want to become a sage like my Dad

And then what a glorious life, you will have had.

10 Comments

Filed under Aging, Aging Parents, Family, Lawyers, Moms, Relationships

Letters to Summer Camp

nlwwoodlands

When my sister and I were away at overnight summer camp, our Mom sent us daily letters.

8 summers, 8 weeks each summer. You do the math!

Every day the mail was delivered, we could read a letter from Mom.

Each letter started the same way.

“I hope this letter finds you well and happy.”

These were short, newsy missives, updating us on her latest bridge game, volunteer activity or a new sweater she was knitting.

Once she inserted a sliver of cranberry-colored yarn to show me her current project.

It was her way of staying in touch and while we loved it, we took the daily letters a bit for granted.

If my Mom was feeling particularly brave, she would insert into a letter, carefully taped on one side, a single stick of juicy fruit gum.

The all-girls camp I attended had very strict rules on food packages. No gum!!

So it was a special forbidden treat to find a stick of gum inside.

(News Bulletin to Camp Woodlands: take a look behind bunk #13; there may be some used gum stuck to the lower side, near the bottom.)

My Dad, however, sent exactly one letter each summer.

He was and is, at age 91, a man of few but well-chosen words. His letters were always typed, as his handwriting is illegible. Timed to arrive during the first few days of camp, his single offering would contain philosophical advice.

“Now that you are 9 years old, you are old enough to think about the importance of being kind to others.”

Or, “At age 10, we expect you to realize how lucky you are to be spending summers in the Maine woods. Your Mom and I miss you very much but being able to go to summer camp is a gift we are fortunately able to give you.”

I treasured those letters, even though they contained, as did all of his future letters to me, the following closing:

“If you have any further questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Love, Dad.”

I grew up thinking this was a normal paternal signature.

Later, when I was away in college, then in grad school, and then in law school (what can I say, I like learning), I called home at exactly 11 a.m. every Sunday morning.

You may not be old enough to remember but time did exist before the invention of email. We relied on phone calls that cost less if you made them at night and on weekends. So a regular Sunday morning phone call became habit.

My Mom would start off the call. She and I would exchange the news. I would tell her about school, friends and the boys I was dating (this was before I called them men.)

After I gave her all the latest info, she would always say – “Your father wants to say hello.”

The phone would be passed.

My Dad would ask: “How are you doing?”

The expected answer would be given: “Fine.”

He was not interested in details. Big picture only, please. My Mom was in charge of the complaints’ department.

His response: “Good, talk to you next week” and then he would pass the phone back to my Mom.

My Mom died when she was 54, 2 years after I graduated from law school and was already working.

Her funeral was on a Thursday and by that Sunday I was back in D.C. I was 28 years old, my sister 4 years younger. My Dad did not want us to linger at home, watching him deal with his grief. He encouraged us to get back to our own lives in other cities.

The following Wednesday night my phone rang.

It was my Dad. I was startled. I wasn’t even sure he knew my home number. My Mom had always been the one to do the dialing.

(We dialed phone numbers back then.)

Shocked to hear his voice on a weekday, I asked:

“Dad, Dad, are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine, why do you ask?”

“Because it is Wednesday. I’ve never talked to you on a Wednesday. It’s not Sunday!”.

Slight pause.

“Can’t I just call to see how you are?”

And the phone line crackled with the sound of unshed tears on both sides.

The ice was broken. He could now call me on weekdays and occasionally he did, and still does, sometimes for no reason at all.

And when my own kids went off to overnight summer camp, I wrote them letters every single day.

Letters about how our dog was doing, what I was reading, stuff in the news.

A daily tribute to my Mom.

My husband, however, would send each of our kids, a single thoughtful letter at the start of each summer, adopting my Dad’s tradition.

Guess whose letters our kids have saved from their summer camp years?

You’re right.

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