Maybe The Old Man Isn’t So Strange After All

Photo from Family Keepsake 2

She is her father’s daughter. Andrea was telling me on Friday that she received a text from her brother congratulating her on the acquisition of her new car. She responded, “Thanks! It is weird. I’m kind of hesitant to drive it. I don’t want it to get dirty. I don’t want to put miles on it and I’m afraid it will get dented or scratched. Maybe the old man isn’t so strange after all”.  My daughter would never opt to use the term “old man”as a display of disrespect, but she would embrace it as a term of endearment.

Several years ago a neighbor purchased a new truck. As the first order of business, he took a screwdriver and purposefully placed a scratch in the bed of his truck. When he told me what he’d done, he said: “Now I don’t have to worry about it getting scratched.” “You did what?” I replied. “ I scratched it. I always do that whenever I get a new truck. I like to get it over with. I don’t like dreading the day I discover it has been scratched. Once it is done, I don’t have to worry about it. I didn’t verbalize it, but I had the same thought that many of you are thinking. “Being smart is not a prerequisite for living in my zip code.”

Two or three weeks ago, the General (aka – my wife) and I drove my truck to Nocona to attend the funeral of an extended family member. By the time we got back home, the exterior paint color was difficult to decipher. I’ve had the truck almost three years and it has never been that dirty. At my first opportunity, I took my truck to the car wash and was elated when the paint color of reappeared. The next order of business was to drive it home and put it in the garage (aka – vault). I prefer to drive it when the sun is shining.

Have you ever thought about it? Don’t you get a momentary boost of satisfaction and energy when your vehicle is freshly washed? You’re probably thinking I’m a “nut-case”, but the truck seems to drive better when it is clean.

Andrea’s story put a smile on my face! It probably is infrequent that either of my kids makes the pronouncement that the “old man isn’t so strange after all”. On the other hand, they may be surprised to eventually discover lots of similarities. I become more like my dad with each passing year. My only regret is that it took me so long to recognize he was really smart.

Two or three years ago, I temporarily shaved off my beard. I probably was hoping to discover someone who looked twenty years younger hiding under the gray beard. If so, it was magical thinking on my part because it didn’t happen. The thing that surprised me is how much I look like my dad. Looking at myself in the mirror as I shaved every morning subsequently proved to be a little eerie. I saw my dad looking back at me. Consequently, I eventually stopped shaving. Now I am back to normal, which is somewhere close to not quite plumb.

In many respects, it would be a transformational positive change if I were more like my dad. I really miss that guy. I thought about him one evening this past week when I went to dinner. I was absolutely famished. After checking into my hotel, I noticed what I thought was a restaurant across the street. It was about 5:30 p.m. and the parking lot was already packed. I was glad I had walked. I didn’t have to worry about parking.

Looking around the crowded restaurant, I noticed that most of the customers were having a liquid meal. I didn’t see food to go with their drink. When the waiter came to my table, he asked if I was familiar with their specials for happy hour? Obviously, I was not since I had never been there before. He quickly pointed out that all the appetizers and the selection of pizza were 50% off during happy hour. My dad was pretty frugal on most occasions. Sometimes I had the sense there was a strong correlation to what he was hungry for and what he anticipated was a fair market value related to price.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t like pizza unless I’m in Chicago. However, half price is half price. Why not have pizza? My dad would have chosen pizza. They even had a pizza selection with a quality cut of beef. Looking over the other pizza choices, I quickly ruled them all out with the exception of the beef.

When the waiter came to take my order, I asked, “How would you rate the beef pizza.” While shaking is hand from side-to-side, he said, “It is so-so.” “So are you telling me you wouldn’t order it?” “I guess that’s what I’m saying. I wouldn’t.” I responded, “What do you recommend?” He replied, “I’d go with the duck pizza.” I wasn’t quite convinced, so I asked, “What do most customers order?” He responded, “Do you see the circle around the ‘duck pizza’, it is the specialty of the house.

I guess I need to go to happy hour more often. It was hands down, the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Add that to half price and it was the perfect meal.

Being referred to by my daughter as “the old man” reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Celtic Thunder. It carries with it a sense of intimacy, respect and love. The son is entitled, “The Old Man”.

The Old Man”

“The tears have all been shed now

We’ve said our last goodbyes

His souls been blessed

He’s laid to rest

And it’s now I feel alone

He was more than just a father

A teacher my best friend

And He’ll still be heard

In the tunes we shared

When I play them on my own

I never will forget him

For he made me what I am

Though he may be gone

Memories linger on

And I miss him, the old man

As a boy he’d take me walkin’

By mountain field and stream

And he showed me things

Not known to kings

And secret between him and me

Like the colours on the pheasant

As he rises in the dawn

Or how to fish and make a wish

Beside a fairy tree

I never will forget him

For he made me what I am

Though he may be gone

Memories linger on

And I miss him, the old man

I thought he’d live forever

He seemed so big and strong

But the minutes fly

And the years roll by

For a father and a son

And suddenly when it happened

There was so much left unsaid

No second chance

To tell him thanks

For everything he’s done

Oh, I never will forget him

For he made me what I am

Though he may be gone

Memories linger on

God I miss him, the old man”


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