It’s Father Day’s morning and I am sitting outside Peet’s Coffee in San Jose nursing the last ounces of a cup of coffee and enjoying a moment of solitude. This is one gift I wanted today for Father’s Day. Father’s Day (Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, you pick it) feels contrived and usually I’ve railed against it. Earlier today I blasted past the “Happy Father’s Day” and “I miss my father on Father’s Day” posts on my Facebook feed in search
At this moment, it feels special somehow. I admit it. It’s not only because given a moment to contemplate, I’ve realized that I bothh am a father and have a father; I suppose the guess the Sandwich Generation father tag on the blog is a giveaway for that. I’m at a brief window, a pause in the slipstream, where I am drawing strength from both sides. Summer is about to start, and if you just fought through the winter that we experienced in Boston, you too have had this day marked in Sharpie for months on your calendar. And to top that off, I’m with my family visiting my brother and his family, so my clan just doubled. People need clans.
And this is why this article in the New York Times (called “At Home, Many Seniors Are Imprisoned by their Independence”) caught my attention. If like me you are generally pressed for time, I’ll save you the trouble. It’s about the phenomenon of ‘aging in place’, where seniors try to stay in their homes. It seems best to let people live out their days in a familiar environment, but there is a tradeoff: it means that they are often alone. With no clan. And for many people, it is harder because it turns out that being alone as a general condition is not how we are designed. Not by accident is solitary confinement criticized as cruel and unusual punishment.
Even my father, who is a misanthrope 13 days out of 14, needs his biweekly “Classical Music Hour” to interact with other people, even if only to complain about them later.
So as I am finishing up this post and contemplating ending this short hour of blessed solitude, I am reminded why it feels so wonderful: I am generally sandwiched between responsibilities, being needed by people I love, and needing and loving them in return. The glass is half-full today. Happy Father’s Day.