My dad turns 93 tomorrow and, while we’re 600 miles apart, we still rely on each other. In our phone conversations, though often strained because of his hearing loss, Dad draws renewed confirmation that we remain a family, and I am able to renew a sense of family heritage in a way that talking with my three scattered brothers (scattered geographically, that is) cannot. My brothers and I are of a generation; Dad is of the generation that reared us and gave us our values.
Those kinds of feelings and reminders are difficult to communicate in words. They grow from the still strong sound of Dad’s voice, from mental images of holidays and relatives and friends, from evaluations of our mutual health that assure us we’re not doing that bad after all.
My brothers–two of whom already are enjoying retirement–and I are unreasonably fortunate to be able to continue to communicate with and visit Dad, who remains as mentally sharp as a 40-year-old. Mom was our communications confidante until a couple years ago when, at 89, she reminded us all of her independence by passing on at the stroke of 12 a.m. on July 4.
As much as I depend on wordsmithing to earn my keep, I long ago learned that communication is more than words. It’s sharing. Sharing a common history, new stages of life and a future that I hope will propel Dad into the Guiness library of centenarian feats.
Happy birthday, Dad. What do you have to say for yourself?