I’ve always said I never want a husband or kids. And I found it a cruel joke that the universe saw it fit to give me – not my family-oriented siblings who all have spouses and kids – the responsibility of taking care of my elderly dad.
I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t too happy about it.
I spent my 20s living carefree. I quit my job (and thus, my career path in corporate marketing) very early on to pursue freelancing. I moved back in with my dad so I wouldn’t have to pay rent. And I spent all the extra money I had traveling. I never saw myself setting down or finding “stability” of any sort. I wanted to be free all my life.
So imagine my surprise when my 30s caught me staying home, permanently, to take care of this man and tend house. In other words, I had all the trappings of a husband and child, without a husband or a child.
Yet now that I’ve been doing this for a few years, I realize I would have it no other way. The time I’ve had to spend with my father has been a blessing. I see him in a whole new light, and he’s getting to truly understand who I am as well. We have the most amazing conversations and share a dark sense of homour that friends have jokingly compared to 90s sitcom.
Most importantly, the lessons he taught me as a child are being taught all over again – and learning them through the lens of an adult has given me a whole new perspective. I’d love to share them all, but they are too numerous to count.
One I will share though, is a short poem my dad shared with me when I was maybe 8 or 9. I remember the day very vividly. We were back home in St. Thomas and he handed me this torn piece of cardboard with words on it and said, “Memorize it, I’ll test you later.”
I learned it word for word, because he said I should, but I never understood it until I became an adult and got my first job. Now, it has become one of the gifts my dad has given me that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.
– – –
If you work for a man,
in heaven’s name work for him,
speak well of him,
and stand by the institution he represents.
Remember, an ounce of loyalty
is worth a pound of cleverness.
If you must growl, condemn, and eternally find fault –
resign your position,
and when you are outside,
damn to your heart’s content –
but as long as you are part of the institution,
do not condemn it.
If you do,
the first high wind that comes along
will blow you away,
and probably you will never know why.
– Elbert hubbard