On this Father’s Day I want to honor all our Father’s, those who are still present with us and those who have long passed, as mine has. When I think of my Dad, a WWII veteran, who celebrated his birthday during the same month we celebrate Memorial Day and flag Day, I am reminded of what he taught me about discipline. Yes, he at times had a heavy hand and instilled more than respect, perhaps a bit of fear. But the discipline I’m talking about is the work ethic, perseverance, not giving up,(or being allowed to) and that pride of ownership that has you taking care of your belongings. I grew up with a well kept yard, a clean car, and a clean kitchen floor. That was the one part of housekeeping he would participate in. He was obsessive about that kitchen floor and would run that electric broom, as it was called, which would run my Mom crazy. Now, I have a well kept yard, a clean car and usually a clean kitchen floor. I however didn’t have the perseverance to sustain the same
career for over 40 years, in the same small community with the same people. That takes stamina!
I was thinking the other night of the first 18 years of our lives, probably because of current HS graduation ceremonies, where we go from being entirely dependent on others, to maturing enough to defend our country in a foreign war, or take on the responsibility of becoming a parent. My Dad retired when he was 71 and lived another 18 years until the old age of 89. It just dawned on me that those last 18 years were the the mirror end of the bell curve of his life. How interesting it is how we treasure and rejoice in those first 18 years, but often fear and reject the last 18 (or however long it takes to decline). Those years often bring loss of self worth, humiliation and rejection, from not only others, but from ourselves. Truly the opposite from the first 18 years, as we become ourselves and gain independence.
It saddens me that in our country particularly, the elderly are not honored and respected as they should be. The wisdom they impart and their presence of mind, when intact, and maybe even when not intact, can teach us a thing or two about life and the pursuit of happiness. As my parents aged,(until the very last years) they became happier, more carefree, less structured and concerned about image and status. They became themselves to some degree without the accouterments of position or title. Having planned well for retirement certainly helped this quality of life, but I think the thing that added joy to those years, was their family, and most definitely their friends and social life. They probably drank more than was healthy for their age, ate too much sugar and didn’t get enough exercise. But they laughed, danced with, and had heartfelt conversations with true friends, some who knew them for 50+ years. Only a couple of their friends remain, and those are like surrogate parents to me, people I remember as far back as I can remember who made my parents laugh. Those are the kind of relationships I hope my daughter cherishes once I’m gone, though I expect to outlive all my friends!
Age does bring wisdom and a level of mentoring, a different perspective on life. In the end, relationships are everything. I am reminded of that everyday. I hope you remember that too.
Deciding to change your lifestyle toward one of health is more easily done with the help of friends. You can do it together. Keep it Simple, take small Actions each day, Surrender to the feelings you’re having, dig deep to your true Spirit, and above all else, stay Inspired!