My father has been gone for several years now. Both he and my mother lived long and happy lives. They were married as very young kids and stayed together for more than 60 years, parting only by their deaths.
I bring this up because I have become aware of recent visits from my father. In fact, he seems to show up almost every time I look in the mirror. When I shave, he seems to be looking back at me. When I get out of the shower, I can’t seem to hide from his prying eyes.
When I was a young man, I never thought I resembled my dad very much. It’s only as I have gotten older and my hair – what is left of it – has grayed that I have seen this uncanny resemblance. The bags that have appeared under my eyes are the same bags that were under my father’s eyes. The skin on my cheeks that used to be tight and taut has recently sagged in the same way my father’s skin sagged. Muscles which once helped me in my hard labor as a young man have softened. My chest which once stood tall in its place has slipped to become a stomach. And a rather substantial one at that.
When I was a young man I never thought much about the changes I noted in my father as he aged. I just felt it was a normal progression. It never occurred to me that same change was to be my heritage. Now, I am not saying aging is bad. It certainly beats the alternative. So many of my friends and relatives never had the opportunity. It’s just that age seems to creep up on us. It seems I sleep better in my recliner in the afternoon than in my comfortable bed at night. I have aches and pains in places where I never even knew I had places. Bette Davis once said getting old was not for sissies. I can attest to that.
My father lived into his 90s, and insurance actuarial tables suggest I will probably do the same. The last two years of my father’s life were difficult for the family because he only visited our world on occasion. I hope I can pass peacefully into that gentle sleep and not be a bother to anyone.
Lately my wife and I have been examining our lives. We have been together for more than 51 years so I think we can say we will probably stay together for what’s left of our tour on this earth. Like so many, we have tried to plan our finances around taking care of ourselves until the last days. We have planned for the future but have decided recently we might as well try to enjoy the present more. We are going to treat ourselves better. There are restaurants we haven’t visited. There are places we haven’t seen. This kind of crazy thinking would never have occurred to my father’s generation. I don’t know if they would have approved.
This is my plan. The next time I look into the mirror and have yet another visit from my dad, I will look to see if there is a disapproving stare. Who knows, that mirror might be on a wall of a resort on a beautiful beach, or in the home of an old friend I haven’t seen in too long a time. I think he will approve. Maybe he will even smile. I know I will.