In April my dad will turn 80. Although we lost my mother in 2005, Dad has stayed busy and insists on enjoying life. I know he misses Mom every day, but there is nothing that can be done about that. He knows she would have wanted him to continue enjoying his life and so he does it both for himself and in honor of her memory. Perhaps it’s this double mission that puts him a bit over the top when it comes to “staying active.” Cousin Marcie stays active by playing ping-pong twice a week. My 84-year-old neighbor stays active by sitting on her front porch every morning and baking a coffee cake each month. Dad stays active by canoeing down the Amazon and sleeping in native huts in the Galapagos. (Hence the many pictures of our family in Panama Hats on Ron’s Picasa-on-the-web album, if you have been there.)
Dad travels to international destinations every year. China. Israel. Turkey. Last month he went on a Caribbean cruise. In June he will go to Scotland with his Scottish Country Dance Group. He dances with this group at least once a week. When he discovered that there is a Jewish Tartan, he just had to buy a kilt made of the stuff. Here is a picture of Dad in his Jewish Tartan.
On New Years’ Eve, Dad wore the Jewish Tartan to a dinner at his retirement community. An old woman who spoke no English (only Spanish) sat next to him. She looked unhappy and finally her daughter told Dad that she was uneasy sitting next to a man in a skirt. Dad explained to the daughter that it was the Jewish Tartan kilt. The daughter explained in Spanish to her ancient mother that it’s a Scottish thing. I wonder if the woman understood. She had apparently never heard of this. She would certainly have been more confused if she had known Dad was Jewish. Perhaps she did. Perhaps she thinks the kilt is a Jewish thing. In Dad’s case, I suppose it is.
I am grateful to have such a lively, healthy, alert father. He certainly has his aches and pains and physical limitations. His mind is fully intact. He works as a mathematician on a consulting basis from time to time. He still works on his own math problems. Perhaps he’ll publish another book some day (he has two already in print). I think his next one should be his memoirs, including his many adventures with the Boy Scouts (he has been a member for nigh on 70 years) rather than a mathematics book that only a handful of geniuses can understand.
So yesterday I spent about three hours online trying to buy budget tickets to New Jersey over spring break for our family of five to go to Dad’s 80th Birthday Party. There is no such thing as a budget ticket at spring break. The whole ticket-buying experience left me shaking in a cold sweat. The whole traveling experience will be even worse, I fear. But how often does one have the good fortune to attend their father’s 80th birthday? Can’t pass it up. Can’t complain. Can’t wait.