I’m not getting any younger. In fact, I’m getting down-right old. I’ll be fifty-one in a couple of months; if that doesn’t sound old to you, it’s probably because you’re older than that. When I met my future in-laws in 1983, they were the same age that I am now. I thought they were old then, and that was twenty-eight years ago (now they really are); that time has just flown by. I’m assuming the next twenty-eight years will fly by as well, and then I’ll be pushing eighty (if I make it that far; boy, that will be an ugly sight), which is old by any standard. My steady march to death is inexorable, but you’d think that after living a half-century that I would have some semblance of control over the rest of my life. Not so. In fact, it is much easier to see that which I cannot influence rather than the things that I can. There seems to be an ever-growing list of things which vex me and defy my attempts to influence their course. Hopefully, I am not alone in seeing what an ineffective player I am in the theater of my own existence; I would love to hear if others feel as helpless to alter the course of their life as I do.
Here, then, in no particular order, are Ten Signs My Life is Not My Own:
1) My oldest daughter is getting married in June. While her fiance asked for my permission (which I appreciated), I doubt saying the first thing that popped into my head, absolutely freaking not!, would have changed anything (I didn’t). He’s a good guy and will take care of her, I’m sure, but still…perhaps I should have insisted on a couple of horses or oxen, but I didn’t think of it and in any event my home is already overrun with pets.
2) My suggestion that I arrive at the wedding on a throne carried by slaves (or groomsmen), to the tune of Judas Priest’s Victim of Changes, was shot down without discussion. Apparently I am to merely throw money at the affair and then show up; after presenting my daughter and grumbling “my wife and I do” in response to the query “Who gives this woman to be married?”, I am relegated to the background for the duration. Travesty.
3) For some reason, my customers seem to insist that I exert no small effort on their behalf in return for their money. This is not how I like to do business; my customers have become increasingly brazen and the situation even more problematic in this slow economy. Frankly, the whole thing is starting to feel a lot like work.
4) The idea of marriage being a reciprocal relationship was brought up shortly after my wife and I were wedded; this is not how things were explained to me by my father, either by words or example. More than once I have been left to fend for myself at mealtime and have also, on occasion, been forced to do menial household chores clearly below my station. Though I feel there is still a net benefit to me, I can’t help feeling things were misrepresented to me.
5) My oldest daughter mentioned to me that she and her future husband may want to wait as long as five years before having children. This would make me sixty-nine by the time the first grandchild plays high school basketball, which is unacceptable to me. It has also been brought to my attention that in order to have a grandchild, some physical contact with my daughter may be necessary; this is simply out of the question. There has to be another way.
6) My recent directive indicating that my youngest daughter, now seventeen, be required to remain in our home for the duration of her natural life (in light of her sister selfishly choosing to marry) has been met with some contention. Apparently, even my wife, who never wants her children to move away, has taken sides with her against me.
7) My plan for financial independence and early retirement has not proved fruitful to date; the odds seem to be stacked rather high against me, and I keep forgetting to buy the tickets.
8) My backup plan for financial independence and early retirement has also failed to build any steam. As of yet I still haven’t befriended anyone for whom I care very little, but who would choose to leave everything to me, and not their relatives and loved ones, in the event of their untimely death. As far as I know.
9) Following the lead of her two older siblings, my youngest daughter has selfishly developed interests and friendships outside our home and pursues them with increasing frequency, leaving less time to spend with the old man. Moreover, she has opted to let her basketball career come to an end with her senior season, leaving me no children of my own still playing for their school. Coaching has helped to soften the blow, and for those children and their parents, I am most grateful.
10) Citing God, morality and basic goodness, my wife only seems to agree with me when it’s in the best interest of those most affected; unless I am one of them, this rarely seems to be in my best interest. I am vexed and hurt by her seemingly contentious nature and general lack of support.
It seems that unless others change their hearts (unlikely), I will continue to lose the grip I hold on my life and that which is most important to me. It would be great if those most closely involved in my life would seek some commonality with me. Why do the most basic things often seem the hardest for people to do?