When we get to a certain age (not sure when that is, but I must be there), we begin to reflect a bit on our lives, people we’ve met, things we’ve done, places we’ve been. That takes us to how we feel about ourselves. When I do that, I always think of one word that sums it up for me – Grateful. Yes, I am grateful for many things.
I’m grateful to be alive. When I was twelve and some time thereafter, I thought 60 was very old. I knew that I would never live that long. That bothered me because I wanted to live to see the turn of the century. When I was older, I no longer worried that I wouldn’t make it. I was still here. When my dad celebrated his 100th birthday in 2013, my optimism about my longevity took a leap forward. Now it’s 2018, and I don’t believe I am likely to depart this world anytime soon. I am very mindful, however, that life is uncertain. Kate’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in 2011 keeps that in the forefront of my mind, but I am very grateful to be here today and enjoying life.
Since it is Father’s Day, I also feel grateful for my dad. Although I never remember his giving me any advice or admonition about making the most of life, he was a significant role model for me. He had a much harder life as a child than I did yet he never complained. He was always optimistic. I could tell by observing how he dealt with problems that he saw life as involving recurring challenges. His job was to figure out how to conquer them. He loved life and the people he encountered along the way. They loved him back.
Kate and I are both grateful for our families. That includes our extended and immediate families. We have two children who have successfully found their places in the world and are raising children that we expect to do the same. Kate and I want to minimize their responsibilities in caring for us, but I know there will be plenty near and at the end of our lives. I am especially grateful for our daughter’s and son’s skills and sensitivities about the aging process. We will be in good hands.
I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to experience the world. That began with educational opportunities but extended to life experiences in different places with different people. I never imagined what lay ahead of me when I left for college. Those experiences have had a tremendous impact on my view of the world.
Many people have influenced my life. Of course, that would include teachers, but goes much further to include people I have studied with, worked with, played with and encountered in brief encounters in everyday life as well as international travel.
As I think of people who have been important to me, I naturally think first of my partner in life, Kate. We’ve often talked about how unlikely it was that a beach boy from Florida would meet up with a Texas gal almost 1500 miles away. We came from very different kinds of families and backgrounds. It turns out that we have shared values and interests that have lasted us a lifetime. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted to go so far away from home when there were plenty of good colleges and universities in Florida. I loved my family, but I am glad I left for a new adventure. My mom said, “You’ll go out there and meet a Texas girl and never come home again.” She and I were both right. It worked out well.
Kate’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s wasn’t in our game plan, but we quickly decided we would make the most of our time. I am satisfied that we have done that, and we’re not finished. Even as her memory fades, we are enjoying life and each other. She lives in the moment, and I am living with her. That is what I am most grateful for this Father’s Day.