My father’s birthday is tomorrow. He would have turned 93.
Since his passing in December 2008, I often wonder if he had lived longer, what he would have had to add to the dialogue on the business and social aspects of aging and recoding a longevity society. In his later years, he could be heard saying, “it’s not age, but the condition you are in that matters”. Perhaps that positive attitude further developed after he had a stroke in his late 60’s.
Due to that and other health issues, he turned his attention to improving his health through better diet control (with my mother as overseer), and exercising on a regular basis which included bicycling and jogging. I think his army and police training kicked in again. Yet that was not the only activity.
My father loved his work and throughout that period into his mid-70’s he continued to work, scaling it down yearly. This all went on even considering the fact that he had two large retirement dinners, (which were more like public showpieces) including one where bagpipers led him in procession to a head table of police chiefs and industry hob nobs. He loved the attention to a degree, yet in a more whimsically philosophical way, he said at the end of his thank you, “old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.”
So work in one of his lines of knowledge and expertise included delivering seminars on the movement of dangerous goods in the transportation industry. This kept him in front of an audience, which was the business social engagement part he missed later on when he stopped working. As my brother recently said, Dad never much liked the idea of retirement.
But he did recognize in later years, as he did all is life, the importance of face to face social contact with those who were alone and/or in poor health, and in that respect he was again blind to the age of the person. He went quietly about that, no fanfare, no bagpipers. If I were to hazard a guess, if there was a theme in the longevity society narrative that he would have attended to, it would be social isolation.
Into his last couple of years, my father’s social nature and instantly infectious yet irreverent sense of humour kept him going, even though my mother’s health condition including dementia was a huge upset to him. My father was curious, comedic, courageous and contemplative. With only the force of those four large words, thousands of stories will be joyfully told – as I think of him tomorrow and always.