April 26, 2019 At some point, all men have the, “oh my God, I’m becoming just like my father” experience. This was always a reach for me as my dad was a handsome, assertive, gregarious, big-boned fella. He brimmed with confidence and thrived on the attention that he catalyzed. Compared to me, a real stretch on all counts.
Dad lived to 90 and his last couple years were not easy for those around him. He was an only child and the product of the male-centric 40s and 50s. Demanding shit was simply a cultural reflex, as natural as breathing. And it seemingly occurred as often. I was frequently the demandee.
It was tough to observe his physical decline. He became both skeletal and bloated at the same time. Rapid movement was never his forte. But now, in decline, every movement became ponderous. As his reluctant hand servant, my patience was tested. Inner dialog skewed towards: “Damn, I don’t have all day”. “Com’n lift your feet”. “Geez, you can’t open a storm window?”
And justice is served once again. Now I’m the human glacier. Muscles recede and bones become prominent. Feet swell and take on strange hues. It is easier to shiver then get to my feet and close a window. I’m light on the spiritual divide but awake to the possibilities of divine retribution. What goes around, comes around. It feels like a flock of crows pecking at my unworthy soul. I could have been nicer.
Yeah, I’ve evolved. At 66 years old I’m comparable to my father at 90. Turning into my dad is not all bad. He maintained his high good humor. And he was courageous in confronting endings. His rearview mirror focused on a life lived well. There was nothing but high notes. He was always optimistic while assessing his covey of very average children. We were viewed through a prism of notable achievement. And he loved his wife, our mother, dearly and without reservation. He used this anchor point to navigate painful currents. And most of all, no regrets.
Alright then, turning into my dad might just work out. Ultimately, he was simply a nice guy – the bringer of jokes, the provider of a good word, and completely in love with those around him. Perhaps I can flip the script. It is not too late to navigate by the compass points of grace, kindness, optimism, and humor. I might even learn to ask for a little help.