Tag Archives: Lawyers

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.

12 Comments

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

Why My Friend Larry May Flunk Retirement

JamesP

Two female friends of ours recently announced that they plan to retire from their jobs in September.

But not my friend, Larry.  The idea of retirement bugs him.

He is 64 and has no plans to retire anytime soon – (in part due to the recent addition of a lovely screen porch on the back of his house where he plans to relax if he ever retires but he first has to finish paying for the screen porch so he can’t retire anytime soon even if he wanted to.)

But he actually doesn’t intend to retire. Ever.

Larry likes being a lawyer. He worries about how he would fill his time once he is retired. So far he has come up with only two retirement tasks.

The first is to clean out his garage.

He and his wife, my friend, Susan, have lived in their house for 32 years where they raised two kids, now young adults, and a cat named Phil who thought he was a dog; sadly no longer with us. The clean-up of Larry’s garage is long overdue.

That should take about 10 days, he figures.

The second task is to organize a large collection of family photos. Ektachrome slides taken by his late Dad beginning in the 1950’s, color snapshots of his own family taken in the 1990’s and a jumble of more recent travel shots residing on his iPad, iPhone and various computers in his basement.

Larry thinks the photo organization project will take about two weeks.

So if he were to retire, let’s say, as of September 4, he will be done cleaning his garage and organizing his photos by about September 29th. Then Larry would go sit on his renovated porch, have an iced tea and think about what he will do for the rest of his life.

This is why Larry is concerned about retiring.

He only can think of two things to do.

He does not play golf or tennis. He does not have a man-cave to putter around in. He does not want to start a new business.  He already bikes, travels and does volunteer work.

So why retire?

I told Larry that retirement isn’t what it used to be. We aren’t supposed to sit at home, on our renovated porches or otherwise, and just rock ourselves into mental oblivion. The new thing is to reinvent ourselves upon retirement. Why not, I suggested to Larry, take a look at one of those popular web sites that encourage pre-retirees to find their passions and reconfigure the second acts of their lives.

Larry’s response: that’s a ridiculous idea. Why should I have to reinvent myself?  He has already had 40 years in his working life to invent himself and he doesn’t think he can come up with anything new. Nor does he want to.

We had a small friendly argument about this recently.

I had to retire; I was cardiologically-told that going back to DC law firm life was not a possibility. So Larry tells me –  you had to stop. I don’t. I like working for a living. My income is quite useful. Why should I give it up if I am still capable?

Maybe thinking about retirement is scary because we don’t want to face old age?

The very word “retirement” does have unpleasant connotations.  It comes from the French word retirer – “to go into seclusion”. The Oxford dictionary defines retirement as “leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” The word retirement is also said to refer to “the period between employment and death.”

Swell.

The thought of not being able to go to work every day makes Larry quake. He believes that he isn’t old enough to stop working and that (unless fate knows otherwise) he is too young to die. Larry has been leaving the house every day to go to school or work since he was five years old. He likes putting on his suit in the morning and commuting downtown to his K street law firm office. It is a big part (the main part?) of his identity.

I liked lawyering too but it didn’t define me. Like many women, I always had interests beyond my day job. As I hit my late 50’s and retirement loomed on the post-60 horizon, I could easily think of a number of productive and fun projects and activities to look forward to doing –  none of which involved cleaning out the garage or organizing my photos or even playing golf. (not that golf isn’t a fine sport, just not for me.)

So I wonder:

Do men – more than women – fear leaving their day jobs because they can’t think of what to do in the (hopefully) long pre-death stretch of years?

Larry recently had his annual physical. He told me that his female internist asked him about his future plans.  Larry told his internist that he did not intend to retire. His internist nodded in approval, “Good”, she said, “Men don’t do retirement well.”

Really?

So are some men like Larry, bound to flunk retirement?

And women of many interests like me and my friends destined to get straight A’s?

Not that it is a competition or anything.

But sometimes, according to Larry, it just seems easier to keep on going to the office everyday than to have to come up with a creative retirement plan beyond cleaning out the garage and organizing photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Men vs Women

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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Filed under Communications