My father will turn 80 this year but to me he is ageless. He is not dying. Most people write about the people they love after they are gone. I want to write about him while he is still here.
I grew up on Long Island in the 70’s. The youngest of three children, my mother was a registered nurse and my father was an accountant. Dad moved out of the house and into an apartment in Manhattan when I was eight years old. It was the end of their marriage but the beginning of the discovery for me of who the man I call Pops really is. A journey that has taken 40 years and which continues today.
While a child, every Sunday he picked me up at our house in Bellmore, took me horseback riding in Babylon and then to Jack In The Box for tacos. I rode the train to the city to spend weekends with him. We went to Danbury, Connecticut to hang out at his second home. For my eighteenth birthday, Pops bought me a car. He paid for my college and grad school, my siblings schooling too. He set me up in my first apartment and when the car he bought me was stolen, he gave me the insurance money. He taught me one of life’s greatest lessons: money comes, money goes.
That’s who my dad was and remains today. The man who can help out financially while still teaching me not to expect anything, not to be spoiled, and to build a career so I can always be self-supporting. But he wasn’t the parent I would go to when I had a problem. That was mom.
I now realize he did that deliberately. He went away on holidays so we would never feel torn between spending time with mom or dad. If, as I grew into a teenager, I wanted to hang out with my friends instead of spending time with him, he voiced no complaint. When I borrowed his car, parked it in Queens and the radio was stolen, he never said a crossword.
Dad retired young, around fifty years old. He had worked very hard and saved enough money to enjoy the rest of his life without working, even with the downturn in the market. But, as we both grew older, something changed for him, and for me. It was our relationship. We became friends.
Over the years, we have learned the things about each other that really matter. What we like to eat. What movies we like to watch and what books we like to read. What makes us happy and what makes us sad. Our philosophies on life and our politics. We share secrets, dreams and disappointments. There is no amount of money that can purchase what we now share.
Dad is ailing but not dying. I have written this not to assuage any guilt, not as therapy for some regret and not to gain favor. I have written this to honor my Pops, my friend. To me, he is ageless.
Money comes, money goes. Family is forever.
Whom do you want to honor while they’re still here?