When I was a teenager I once made the mistake of calling my father:
“My Old Man.”
It happened in the kitchen at home while I was on the phone with a girlfriend. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table right next to me having something to eat.
My statement was as follows:
“Yes, I’d love to go with you, but I have to ask My Old Man first.”
The moment I got off the phone he shot me a look.
Then he asked me:
“Did you just call me an old man?”
I was caught off guard by his question, and immediately felt bad.
It never occurred to me that he would take the comment so personally.
He was usually pretty upbeat when it came to popular teenage slang, but unfortunately, I must have hit a nerve.
To me, the term…
“My Old Man,”
Was a term of endearment, and not meant to be demeaning.
Well, he didn’t quite see it that way.
When I tried to explain that it was just a euphemism of sorts, he would have none of it.
“I am not an old man!” …he said one last time and then went on to finish his plate.
He would have been in his early forties back then. Certainly not an old man but still, he had a teenage daughter and so he was well on his way.
Or that’s what I thought back then.
Isn’t it funny how we misconstrued time when we were teenagers.
Surprisingly as I look back, I find myself amused over his reaction.
Never before had I witnessed any sort of display resembling vanity or ego from him.
…Other than how he always loved to tell people that his eyesight was so good that if you placed a newspaper on the floor, he could read it standing up.
…Or when someone raised the subject of muscles he spoke at length about his years of bike riding as a young boy through the mountains of Austria. Indeed, Dad was still quite fit thanks to the fact that he always walked six kilometres each day.
And so, I agreed to never call him “My Old Man” again.
It wasn’t long after that, that I started calling him…
It was truthful, professional and had a bit of a bite to it.
I called him “Father” at home, in the grocery store, at work, wherever.
He eventually got use to it after several months.
Sweetly enough, by then all the little tots in the neighbourhood started calling him Father too!
Funny… he didn’t mind that so much.
And oh, how he loved the little ones…
Well, Father died ten years ago at the age of seventy-two.
It was the cancer that got him in the end.
No doubt, he felt that his body had betrayed him because he had always lived a healthy lifestyle of exercise, vitamins and eating well.
This year he would have turned eighty-two.
And of course, he would have indeed been an old man.
If he were still alive today I think he would have rather liked me referring to him as…
“My Old Man.”
Yes, I think he would have liked it a lot.