What My Father Said and Other Musings

I woke up this morning to a severe weather warning (wind gusts up to 35 mph) and a sub-40-degree temperature headed to the low 30’s. I started to write this post in the middle of April and the weather hasn’t improved much since then. I am really tired of this crap. Needless to say, I am just a tad grumpy.

On top of that, I have started walking daily. I started with just a mile or so and in the past few months have progressed to averaging about 3 miles a day in just under an hour. But (because I am male? because I am stupid? because I am both?) I occasionally decide to evaluate whether I can do more….. or I get lost, and I have to walk a lot farther and longer to find my way back. Yesterday was the former and I definitely donated all of my knee cartilage to Hermes (the Greek god of athletics) during my 4+ miles including a hill at the end. Afterwards, I spent a half hour icing each knee and arose from my seat very gingerly. Walking up the stairs to go to bed was a whole new experience. Thank Asclepius (the Greek god of medicine and healing) for anti-inflammatories….. I made it down the stairs this morning without falling on my ass or worse.

My father (of blessed memory; he would have been 95 years old tomorrow) told me this would happen. The exact quote was “this growing old shit is not for wussies.” He was entirely correct. He was correct in a few other things as well:

  • “No one ever said drunk what they didn’t think sober” – said in response to Mel Gibson blaming being drunk for an anti-Semitic tirade, which he did more than once. Think about that one for a minute with all the folks you know who said something terrible and blamed it on the alcohol.
  • “He is the kind of guy who got kicked out of a shitty fraternity” – said to my daughter about Donald Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 election.
  • “Never overlook the opportunity to keep your mouth shut” – to me, many, many times. I did not consistently follow that advice and ignoring it was usually to my detriment.
  • “If I wanted any more crap out of you, I would unscrew the top of your head and dip it out” – on a number of occasions, usually in response to some belligerent jerk who decided to try to take it out on my dad.
  • “He is a triple threat….stumble, fumble, and trip” – about any number of folks who had trouble finding their ass with both hands.
  • “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare” – again, to me on a number of occasions. This is one I actually took to heart but waited until college to start putting this into practice.
  • “Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement” – to me, to himself (rarely) when the situation commanded it.

I now look back on these with a smile, amusement, and more than a little longing to hear them from the source. I do miss my dad.

P.S. Why the references to the Greek gods? Over the winter, I read The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller, Stone Blind – a reinterpretation of the Persephone legend by Natalie Haynes, and I listened to a podcast in two parts titled The Rest is History about a) the fall of Troy and b) Stephen Fry as guest discussing the Greek gods and legends. The podcast is hosted by historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook. All of the above were terrific and resulted in a resurgence of my interest in Greek mythology.

I come by this honestly – both my parents were literature majors and well-versed in the Greek myths. They referenced them often enough to have made an impact on me. I miss my mom, too….she knew all the myths. Dad specialized in the most ribald.

Like the wisdom contained in the Torah, particularly the understanding of human nature, the Greek myths show keen insight into human behavior, desires, and wishes. I find it fascinating that after 4,000 years those insights are still accurate. Also interesting is that these were written roughly contemporaneously; Greek mythology around 700 BCE and the lead up to completing the Torah, around 590 BCE, strongly hinting that there were pieces written before this time.

Such are my thoughts on these dreary days.

6 thoughts on “What My Father Said and Other Musings

  1. I wish I had he opportunity to meet your dad, sounds very much like my father but better educated. As we get older, we realize the wisdom our parents brought to our lives.
    A note to your new exercise program, never too late. I’m reading Outlive by Peter Attis, MD, number one on The NY Times book list. Best lay medical book I have ever read. Read it and we can go to lunch and discuss it. Great medical road map for the rest of your life!

  2. Wonderful, warm memories of RIF and Iris. I’m meeting next week with some of my Robert Morris friends and RIF’s name will surely be recalled with great affection.

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