Hanging with Dad

For the second time in a month, I flew into the beautiful Jacksonville airport to be picked up by my parents.  We arrived early, so I enjoyed some calming piano in the main lobby of the airport just outside Security.  It was a good way to get into the right mindset of my vacation.  I then proceeded to the madness that is the pick-up area of the airport.  It didn’t take long for my parents to find me, but it is the least favorite part of travel for me.  After a couple hours of catch-up and planning for the week, my parents were ready for bed.  I went to the guest room to read before heading to bed myself.  I am happy that I have done well with consistently reading this year.

The next morning after breakfast, we went for a bike-ride around the neighborhood.  It felt like old times as my old mountain bike was still ready for me.  We took it slow and enjoyed the sunshine.  We made our way down the old church at the end of the road.  My Eagle Scout project still stands.  I once again observed how close the surrounding neighborhood is encroaching on the property.  A few of the original properties on the river still stand alone.  On the way back home, I was instructed to take the lead.  I was a little out of practice at the beginning of the trip, but was excited to be out front by this point.  At first, I maintained the leisurely pace from before, but then was inspired.  I flashed back to my early days of Boy Scouts and Youth Group, riding my bike to attend meetings.  On the way home, I would ride as fast as possible.  I did the same this day to the best of my ability.  I didn’t quite hit the zig-zag curve at full speed, but I enjoyed myself.  It was unplanned.  It was exhilarating. 

The evening of the bike-ride involved attending the local Toastmasters meeting.  My dad has been part of this chapter for at least a few years and has held several positions.  The overall goal is to improve each person’s comfort with public speaking.  Each section of the meeting is timed and graded.  Each speaker and the entire group get a score at the end of the meeting.  Awards are given out.  There are at least two planned speeches during each meeting, which can qualify you for speaking at larger events.  My dad started attending, in part, to pursue a future of speaking and selling his book on personal finance.  His current speeches are focused on this topic.  I had attended a meeting once before, so I had met several of the people.  They are all very nice and encouraging.  That is the point: to be comfortable and to get peer feedback.  Closer to the end of the meeting, they select a couple of people to do a less than two-minute speech on a random topic.  These are called “Table Topics.”  Guess who was “randomly” chosen?  With no preparation time, I gave a brief speech on learning patience in your personal and professional life.  It wasn’t amazing or anything, but everyone was giving me praise afterward (not unlike at my grandfather’s memorial service).  I won Top Table Topics for the week. 

We decided to use our next morning for an outdoor activity as we made our way down to the beach just south of my parent’s place.  It was sparsely populated and not too warm, as we had some thin clouds blocking the sunlight.  My parents have a whole beach routine, including putting up the large umbrella, bringing plenty of snacks and sparkling water (so spoiled).  While I put on a couple layers of sunscreen to protect my “pale Illinois skin”, my parents made their way out into the calm waves of the ocean.  I was happy to see them both happy.  Between the caring for my grandfather in the worst of times, handling the passing and memorial service, they had both been overwhelmed.  (By this point, I had been in my new house for two weeks, so my stress level had also returned to normal.)  I joined them in the water to jump some waves and watch the seagulls fight against the wind.  We also made our way down to the far end of the beach, careful not to step on any sharp shells.

For dinner, we traveled to a local bar and grill to meet my dad’s teammates from work.  He has been working in a corporate job for at least two years now and has some interesting experiences navigating the culture there.  I was not surprised with the mindset of his teammates that I had a chance to meet. I  have been in the corporate world for over a decade now.  There are differences, of course, but a lot of the structure seemed very familiar.  I even considered working at this company before I got the job offer in Illinois.  Once again, I was able to observe my dad in action.  Making sure that he was seen by all the right people, even on one of his days off.  It was a new experience as such gatherings don’t really exist where I work.  The closest thing would be a lunch off-campus (which isn’t generally encouraged).  I enjoyed watching the eyes of a young man when I described how long I had been working for a large company.  He excitedly told me about the path he was working on to get to his next role.  I’m finally old enough to have the perspective of remembering that stage in my career as well. 

After a rather full couple of days (at least for me), the next day turned out to be pretty rainy.  We decided to take a break and wind down a little bit.  My mom and I played cards and the classic “Mancala” game from my childhood.  They have converted my grandfather’s old space into a puzzle / boardgame room.  Later in the evening, my dad and I went to meet up with his friend for some coffee at a local shop.  I had seen him at the memorial service, but didn’t have much time to talk to him.  My dad sees him almost every week.  They have been friends for ages.  I caught him up on my busy time in March and what the future may hold.  The first time I was invited to their weekly get-together as an adult, I felt like I was “part of the club”, so I try to maintain that tradition. 

My four days in Florida was a perfect tonic to my crazy personal and professional life in the weeks before.  It was also a time to see how far my dad had progressed in his goals as well.  The next big event in his professional life will be earning his CFP Certification.  This requires 1000s of hours of experience in the financial planning world.  Along with the normal licenses, he could open up his own business selling and advising on various financial products.  It’s always hard to tell which path he will take.  He always has a couple tricks up his sleeve. 😉

2 thoughts on “Hanging with Dad

  1. It’s always a delight to read your reflections (and poetry). Your parents have been through a lot the past few (maybe several) years, and I was pleased to have this glimpse of them enjoying your visit, including your day at the beach. I have a specific memory of watching my parents dance, and it was touching to see their “together” time.

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