Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Fountain of Youth

My adorable dad turned 79 last weekend. *Happy (late) birthday, Dad!* The thing is? He looks, feels, and acts like he’s about 60. It seems like he’s stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth, and hasn’t aged a day since I left home 20-something years ago. (Actually I saw him age about ten or fifteen years the year my mom died. But the man is so full of life and resilient he looks younger now than he did then!)

Here are a few things that I think contribute to my dad’s Fountain of Youth:

Mirth: He’s so quick to laugh, has such a ready twinkle in his eye. He embodies joy. This is the guy who even made vacuuming the stairs fun, by telling me to sing Jingle Bells with the vacuum hose stuck to my face, because it looked and sounded so funny. He ranks right up there with Pippi Longstocking at turning work into play!

Caring: One night when I had to work late, he took a stack of papers to grade and accompanied me to the magazine office, so I wouldn’t be there alone, or have to walk to my car by myself in the dark. A simple gesture that meant a lot to me, and I’ve never forgotten.

Friendship: Dad still has the same group of friends he grew up with on Capitol Hill as a kid. When we were growing up, “The Boys” and their wives got together every month. Now they live far away, but I saw them together at a party two years ago, and they were laughing and joking as if they’d just seen each other last week. 

Activity: Every day he’s outside walking, hiking, biking, golfing, playing tennis…you get the picture. These days he’s also very big into The Blue Zone way of life.

Cheerleading: From the time I was a baby, he would pick me up in the air and ask, “Who’s the greatest?” and expect me to answer, “Baby Jana!” It might be a little over the top, but I never doubted my dad’s belief in me or my worth in his eyes.
Creativity: I think painting—and really any creation—brings out and nurtures our inner child. Dad has a PhD in Creativity, and he still paints masterpieces in watercolor. His inner child has been growing at a steady pace, healthy and well-fed for decades.

Learning: My dad is a master teacher—always has been—and I think one of the things that makes him so amazing is his passion for learning. He is always reading, always seeking out new adventures and ideas.

Love: My mom died over 24 years ago…and just in the last couple of years my dad married Sharon, a wonderful addition to our family, with the same penchant for giggling. They are an adorable pair, and I think their love and enjoying life together keeps them young.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents and the incredible legacy and privilege of spending time with them—the laughter, the learning, the joy, the peace and quiet, the music, the FOOD. I’m so grateful my own children have similar story-book-worthy grandparents, and a similar legacy of love, gathering, work, excellence, laughter and service to shape their youth.Thanks, Dad. I love you! You continue to inspire me! xoxo

For more on the beauty of aging, and the joy of making the wiser generation a part of our lives, tune into The Living Room: Honoring Previous Generations.

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