28 November 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

This photo was taken around 1930 in my grandfather's grocery store in Toledo, Ohio. Standing by the counter to the left of the picture, in the long apron, is my uncle Willie. Behind him, looking proprietary, is my grandfather. To his right is one of the neighborhood kids, and then two men who sold produce to the store. The guy in the back corner is my uncle Leon. The young man at right, wearing knickers, is my dad, the baby of the family. He turned 90 yesterday.

A WWII veteran, he went to the University of Toledo on the G.I. Bill and moved to Southern California for grad school at Cal Tech. A few years later, he and my mom bought a house near the ocean. In those days, mere middle-class mortals could afford such things. My brother and I grew up in that house. My mom and dad still live there.

He got up early yesterday and went for a walk, as he does most mornings. He went to the beach and back, a walk of maybe a mile, including a significantly steep hill. He says he has to stop and rest several times on the way up, but still. Mom says when he goes all the way down to the beach he sits in a chair for the rest of the day, but still.

He has his share of health problems. In May 2008 he was in intensive care with three holes in his gut. Nobody expected him to live through the night. He worked his way back, a little at a time. He still can't do everything he used to do, but he can do a lot more than anybody ever expected. The man is a force of nature.

Whenever I ask him how things are going, he always says, "Just another day in paradise!" He says every morning when he wakes up he thinks, "Another day! And I'm here to see it!" When I was living at home I sure don't remember my dad being such a relentlessly cheerful guy. For whatever reason, he seems to have come to really appreciate what he's got, and not waste much time thinking about what he's lost. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from the old guy yet.

Happy birthday, Pop.


  1. Great post. While it's a simplification, I noticed that people's general bend tends to get amplified as they get older. Gives me pause for thought.

  2. Something from the past for sure - family markets!
    My folks have gotten more mellow, accepting, etc.

    they get wiser the older I get umm . ..