My paternal grandfather, a brilliant man and shrewd business executive, spent his last ten years or so, after my grandmother died, doing basically just four things: grocery shopping, cooking, watching television (lots of television) and a small amount of reading. My father, a brilliant retired lawyer, does pretty much the same, to the chronic frustration of my mother, and the occasional judgmental comments of his children. What a waste it sometimes seems.
Today, I slept in late and then spent most of the day in bed, doing what? Watching television. It was a Smallville marathon on one of the cable networks. I’ve never seen that much of the series, but as a boy I was enthralled with Superman and Superboy comics, and so Supermanish things have an attraction for me. I might never have gotten out of bed had it not been for a private student coming for a lesson at 5:00 PM.
In the midst of all this, I had another of those horrifying mid-life realization: I am not just “turning into” my father, I have already become my father.
I was feeling bad about this (not bad enough to turn off the TV, though), when it hit me: I was quite enjoying this slothful afternoon of rest, in all its delicious, lowbrow irresponsibility. And my father is not unhappy. On the contrary, he seems to quite enjoy the balance of his life now. There is no denying that he did much good for many people during his career, and that he was a good provider and is a faithful husband and loving father. If he likes watching Jeopardy and reruns of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and All in The Family and Gunsmoke, so what? And my grandfather–he, too, seemed quite content in his later years.
So I’m a little less worried about the fact that I may spend much of my later years watching television, cooking, eating, and driving my children to frustration. If that’s my destiny, well, I might as well relax and enjoy it.
Say, where did I put that remote?