What is it like to turn seventy-nine years old? I do not know for sure, because I am not there yet, but here are few things I observed this month when my siblings and I gathered from around the country to celebrate my dad’s seventy-ninth birthday.
|Me and my Dad|
1. You are a little more tired. Every day, my dad “reads” the newspaper while lying on the couch. He often reads it for an entire half an hour with his eyes completely closed, snoring softly. Resting is important, and when you are older, you allow yourself that luxury.
2. But you still want adventures: My dad announced on his birthday that he wants all of us – his kids and their spouses, to take a trip to Alaska next year. There are always new horizons to explore, if perhaps a little more slowly than before.
|My Dad and my sister|
3. You continue to like the same things you liked when you were younger. My Dad has always loved cars. My mother tells the story of when she was in the hospital to deliver me, my father stepped out for a bit to attend a classic car show. (This is before fathers were required to help their wives breath during labor.) I remember being the only kid in the neighborhood who drove around in a big, black 1930’s Packard because my dad loved restoring old cars, and he will still discuss cars with anyone who will listen.
|My Dad and my brother|
4. Childhood memories are important. My father had a ceramic farmer doll dressed in overalls when he was a very little boy. My grandmother, before she died, restored the doll and then gave it to me. I had the doll for years, but this year it occurred to me that perhaps my father would like to have it again. I carefully wrapped it in layers of tissue paper, and when my dad opened the package, tears streamed down his cheeks as memories from his happy childhood were relived.
5. You never cease to enjoy the company of family, no matter what your age. There is no one else who remembers singing those silly songs on a family vacation to Montana back in the 70’s. Only family know how irritating you can be, but loves you all the same. Whether you are nine or seventy-nine, there is joy in being a family.