Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Still learning from my Dad

Me and the old man! At The Barking Dog, Amesbury MA.
I’m 50 years old and still learning.

Still learning from my Dad.

Dad is 79 and dealing with a host of chronic conditions—name it, he’s probably got it. His mobility is greatly diminished. He needs a cane, sometimes his walker. Most of his friends are gone, so he gets lonely. He has a grumpy, nippy “lovebird” as a companion.

I help him out. I pay his bills, help him with medical appointments, because he doesn’t text or email. Run a vacuum around his condo.

Last night we had a wonderful little impromptu dinner out.

Here’s the sad admission: It took some effort on my behalf.

I had planned to swing by Dad’s condo, check in on him, and pick up his mail. But he mentioned he wasn’t in the mood to cook and was planning to go out to dinner, alone.

I hesitated. I kind of just wanted to go back home. I am trying to eat better—do I really want restaurant food on a Tuesday? All the excuses.

After a few seconds of indecision I mentioned I was free, and that I’d go with him.

To say it was worth it is an understatement.

Dad misses his deceased friends, especially Willie, who he worked with, side-by-side, for the better part of 40 years. I knew the story of Willie’s retirement but asked Dad to retell it anyways. Willie said he’d leave a bottle of Jameson on his desk on his last day. My dad knew the day was coming, but Willie surprised him, sneaking out one day after lunch. But not before leaving the bottle and a few shot glasses.

My dad and five other guys spent the afternoon toasting to Willie while his boss looked the other way.

I also learned something new: Dad was invited to two weddings of much younger guys he worked with, but never hung out with.

Who does this happen to? My dad.

He always was charming, and he still has that social fastball. My Dad engaged the bartender far better than I could have yesterday, or any other day. I just needed to get him away from the TV. 

He had a great time. In turn, he got me out of my ennui.

I feel helpless sometimes when I’m around him, watching his slow decline. Yesterday he helped me as much as I helped him.

When I’m feeling isolated at work, bleeding into my personal life, it’s always the same cause: A lack of engagement.

I know need to spend my time not stewing on my own inadequacies, but helping out others.

Some career/life advice:

👉 Connect with people. Face to face if you can. If you’re an introvert, push through the resistance.
👉 Don’t assume; you’ll get burned through lack of communication
👉 Be clear about what you want. Listen in return.
👉 Be kind.

Thanks to Dad I am reminded of what I need to do. It doesn’t come naturally, but I’ll keep working at it.


Arthur Drake said...

Been taking more time to see family recently, haven't regretted a second of it. Sounds like some good life advice. I know me and my dad don't always see eye to eye but I'm certainly still learning from here after all these years.

Brian Murphy said...

Glad to hear that Arthur.