Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parental Guidance

Off from work today, celebrating my dad's 80th birthday. Yeah, he's slowed down a little bit through the years, but if I'm still going at 80 like my dad is, I'll take it. My parents are here for six days and not one of those days has this on the itinerary: "Hang out. Do nothing". It's go time, all the time.

I think of this whenever I hear or read the latest warnings about food, drink, medicine, air quality, water quality, etc. Instead of using the "Study of the Week" as a guide to how to live my life, maybe I should look to what my parents have done. Sure, they've had their share of health scares, but no one runs clean and lean start to finish. So, if I'm to take my parents' example to live a longer, happier life I'd:

1) Work at a job I enjoy. Check

2) Retire early. The memory of the joy my parents had when the governor of Wisconsin passed a bill making retirement possible at 55 years of age stands strong to this day. They've been retired for 20+ years and don't seem to miss what they did (both teachers). In fact, from the war stories they get from colleagues still in the trenches, they believe it was the best move they ever made. Besides having a third child, of course. My dad mentioned to me last night that based on pensions and investments, they make more now not working than when they were employed. We should all be so lucky.

3) Travel. They don't take long trips, but there isn't a month that goes by where they're not on the road or in the air. My last vacation that was just me and Pumpkin was in May of 2008. Trips home are nice, but I'm not sure if "vacation" can be used as a label, certainly not when I can hear my dad snoring from down the hall

3a) Stay cheap. Comfort Inns and Holiday Inn Express are just fine, thanks

3c) Stay near a casino. After all, what fun is life without a little gambling? And what's more fun that holding a pair and drawing to a four-of-a-kind? Not one thing.

4) Drink. I don't think a day has passed(other than during illnesses or surgeries, and even then...) that I can remember my parents not having a cocktail or two. Mom: martinis (gin & vermouth, not the pussy kinds that populate the landscape these days) Dad: Beer, and the occasional Rusty Nail (scotch and drambuie) when he's feeling frisky. Every damn day. I remember one time when we went back for a few days, we went out for a fish fry and Pumpkin and I went to the hostess stand to get seated, not realizing my parents had grabbed a couple of chairs at the bar. I asked why they didn't want to go right to the table and my mom, shocked look on her face, said it was "unheard of" not to sit at the bar for a bubble or two before dinner. Not being ones to breach etiquette, Pumpkin and I took seats at the bar and quaffed.

Those are my parents' four basic principles to happiness. Yes, they had kids but I think their happiest years have been after we all got the hell out of the house. So, if the lesson to be learned from that is don't have kids, I can check that box as well.

No comments: