What My Daughter Taught Me About My Dad by Dina Ramon

I am fortunate to have longevity in my family. Particularly as an older mom, I am grateful that my own parents are healthy, and able to be involved in my daughter’s life. My Dad just turned 80 years old; an obvious milestone which my husband, daughter and I celebrated with him in a low-key fashion which is just his style. My Dad is quite independent and I am by no means his caregiver but I may as well be. I am constantly worrying about him. Is his house clean? Is he washing his dishes? Is he driving under the speed limit (he got a ticket last year for going 80 mph). He lives by himself so if had an accident in his house or while out walking his dog, would help get to him? These concerns trigger high anxiety but as much as I try, I am not the boss of him. I have however, insisted and he gave in to having a housecleaner come in once a month. A small victory for sure. It’s funny how even after spending decades of quality of time with someone who nurtured you, protected you and put you through school, details of that significant person’s life before you came along come out like a casual surprise and you find yourself amazed that you never knew it. As much as I think I know about my Dad, more and more as I navigate middle age, I feel like I am just getting to know him. And as my daughter has shown me, sometimes it takes your own child’s innocent questions to learn interesting aspects of your parent’s lives and experiences. In the midst of a glorious weekend of swimming in the lake, grilling next to a picnic table, and savoring a delicious birthday dinner, I learned where my Dad learned to swim as a boy, and his roles and responsibilities as a young Marine stationed in Okinawa, thanks to my daughter who simply wanted to know these things from her Grandpa. Small things for sure in some respect, but key events in my Dad’s life that probably helped shape who he is. My daughter has inspired me to ask more and learn more about my Dad. And perhaps I can try to worry a little less about him. I encourage others to take the lead from your kids and discover how much you really don’t know about your own parents before you lose the opportunity.