My old man celebrated his 65th birthday today, so I stopped by my folks’ house on my lunch to raid the fridge express my congratulations. Chocked full of anecdotes and always willing to share them, my father has always made for a fun conversationalist. To those who’ve told me I have the gift of gab, I’d have to say that I inherited it from him.
Today he remembered something he had done some forty-odd years ago. When he was a young sailor on night duty somewhere over the Atlantic, he pulled a small notebook from his pocket and wrote If I live to be 65 years old, the date will be March, 1 2006. I wonder what I’ll be doing on that day?. I found this thought-provoking. Afterall, who hasn’t stopped and wondered what they might be doing at some point in the future? It immediately brought to my mind the day in 1980 I proudly proclaimed to my bus driver that I would live to see the turn of the century. Then seven years old and awed at having seen the calendar turn from 1979 to 1980, I too had calculated how old I would be at some seemingly far-off point in the future.
When we crystal gaze like this, we tend to fancify things. When I envisioned the year 2000 as a seven-year-old, I’m sure I thought of jet packs and androids. Now as an expectant father I foresee my daughter being a master violinist or a state senator — maybe even a violin playing senator riding around on a jet pack with an android. While serving in the military my father had considered emigrating to Australia. Maybe sitting in the engine room that night in the mid-1960s, he pictured himself at age 65 a retired admiral running with kangaroos or playing sea shanties on his didgeridoo. Whatever the vision we conjure up, it’s almost always grandiose and flattering.
As for my dad’s question as to what he’d be doing on this day , he said that now after all this time he finally knew the answer. “On March 1, 2006, ” he said to me, “I’ll be walking my dog.”