life lessons

My Pop

“It’s not how old you are.  It’s how you are old” – Jules RenardIMG_2954This is a little story about the handsome guy in the middle of the other two handsome guys (one being my husband Andy, and the other my bro-in-law Howard)…My father-in-law is celebrating a birthday tomorrow – his 97th trip around the sun.  Not bad…

My parents left too soon for me to learn some valuable lessons that I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from pop.  Truth be told, he’s on one coast, and I’m on the other – and yet, my thoughts of him travel far more reliably than any airline.  Here are a few…

Pop holds fireside chats that are attended by friends and those who are new to the community where he lives.  The questions he poses are always thoughtful, topical and open-ended.  In keeping wih his motto that ‘you’ve got to reach out, because no one is reaching in’, he extends himself to those around him as a matter of course.  Pop’s aim is to listen, to undertand the opinions and thoughts of others, not to grandstand.  And yet, when he received a standing ovation from his peers a couple of weeks ago, he was humbled and abashed.  ‘I haven’t done anything’, he insisted to me.  Of course he did – he was engaging people in ways that we often forget to do.

His days are fuller than mine, frankly – he golfs, plays bridge and rummikub (sp?), he dates, dances, and honors his faith.  He’s pretty proficient with FaceTime, but for the occasional lapse when I find mysef looking at his shirt.  His children adore him, his grandkids and great grandkids follow in kind.  Pop is the patriarch of this tribe far less because of age and far more because of the quality of his soul.  His enormous capacity to love.  The way he says ‘how are you my dear’ which melts me everytime.  The way he laughs.  The way he keeps teaching by example – rejecting self-absorption as a far more trivial exercise than showing concern for others.  His hugs.  He will always be my favorite father-in-law, as I am his favorite daughter-in-law – even if there were others.  I’m lucky, for I would never be able to handle the competition,

So, pop – this is for you…with all my love.  I’ve been able to enjoy being in your sphere for over thirty years and I’m counting on delighting in your orbit for atleast a hundred more – no pressure.  Happiest of happy birthdays…