Today is the day before Father’s Day, and I wanted to have something special this year to give Dad, who is now 89 years old. But when you are 89 years old and proclaim that you already have everything you need, then knowing what to give can become a challenge.
This morning, as I did my 3-mile run through the neighborhood, I pondered what I was going to do for Dad to honor his day. Dad was never especially fond of “things” to begin with, and material goods really hold no value for him anymore. I think that this comes as a result of a combination of age and wisdom, but it sure does make it hard to come up with the perfect gift. So my focus of my run was to create an idea for a gift that I could deliver to him tomorrow. As my body covered three short miles, my mind wandered across the universe. These are always the best kinds of runs.
Dad only ever had a very small and select group of friends, all acquired over 60 years ago, but they were all very special friends. At this point, he has outlived almost all of them, and the couple that remain are in very poor health. He has no interest in acquiring new ones at this point in his life. But he treasures family more than ever. Family is about all he outwardly has any more, and they bring him more happiness than anything else in his life.
Dad is still as active as his 89 year old mind and body allow, which is really quite a bit. His likes his quiet time, enjoys watching sports on TV, and he enjoys reading. He is also still a very good bridge player, and plays most weeks at least once. He still spends time at the gym nearly every day, walking a couple of miles three or four times a week, working with weights, and doing exercises in the pool after a nice sauna. You would not know he is soon to be a nonagenarian if you ever met him.
Two things that Dad gets particular joy from as things relate to me is when I am running, and when I am writing. I used to do a lot of both. Dad knows that I am at my absolute best when running and writing are both taking place in my life, so when I am doing both, it gives him great joy. Over the past couple of years, I have struggled with both my running and writing, either due to physical limitations, or attitude, or in some cases both.
Only very recently, my running has found a weak pulse, and though I am hardly a regular runner again quite yet, I am actively working on that as a long term goal, and am starting to at least think like a runner again. But the writing has been the even bigger obstacle. I have not written anything worthwhile in a year or longer, and Dad will still ask occasionally when I am going to start writing again. When he asks, I just shrug and tell him I don’t know, and then I feel bad because I know how much joy it would bring him to see me writing again. I have to be moved to write, and nothing moves me like when I am running. So this morning, since I was running anyway, I concentrated on what I could come up with to write, with the hope of massaging the thoughts into the words that I will have to hand him tomorrow morning. What you are reading is what I will hand him tomorrow.
Although I am seeing Dad tomorrow for Father’s Day, I also saw him today. Dad is a religious man, and every Saturday morning, almost without fail, he goes to synagogue. This is another activity that gives him great joy. I thought it would be a nice way to start the Father’s Day weekend to accompany him this morning. So after my run, I drove over and accompanied him at the morning services, and then Kelli came by after, and we all had lunch with him and Mom. I also told him I would be over early tomorrow so we could have a nice walk together. This is something we do far too infrequently these past few years, mainly due to my extremely busy schedule and lack of available time when we can do it. In both of our younger day, we used to run, and race together, quite often. It was the one special activity that the two of us had that was ours and ours alone. Those runs were almost sacred and helped create a bond that nothing since we started running together can break. It is one of the things in my life I am most thankful for.
In the back of my mind, I always knew that there would be a time that running would evolving into walking. But that did not happen until dad was in his mid-70’s. Yes, the running got slower over the years, but the meaningfulness of the runs never changed. Even as running shifted over to walking, each time doing it together carried the same significance.
So tomorrow morning, after my 3-mile run, I will once again head over to Dad’s, hand what you are reading now to him, and then we will go on a 2-mile walk. Then I will write about that later in the day. And his Father’s day gift will have been given.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you.