As we approach the new year I was hoping we could share something.
It has to do with my father.
My father was forced into early retirement by an odious landlord who made him close his business, the famous “Imperial Sandwich Shop” in Manhattan. The landlord raised the rent until the store could no longer eke out a profit.
Of course my dad could have continued to wake up at 4am each morning to ride the train into Manhattan to accept morning deliveries. He could have continued to stand behind the counter making sandwiches for harried office workers rudely yelling out sandwich demands in an effort to get back to their desks on time. He could have persisted in sweeping floors and making change in the ancient register.
He had the option to continue. He just wouldn’t be able to make a profit.
The landlord wanted him out.
So he left. Closed down the business that had been there for over twenty five years.
I’m pretty sure a tie shop opened in that location after he was gone.
Maybe the landlord was tired of the smell of lunch meats.
After he retired my dad drifted. My mother was still working and he seemed unsure about how to order his days. He was not a man with hobbies. He liked to listen to music and he enjoyed crime shows on television.
He was a sweet man, but quiet. He and my mother were friends with many couples, but my dad did not have many individual friends of his own. My parents liked to travel, and they continued to do that for many years after his early retirement. But my mother made all the arrangements for those trips. She also arranged all their social activities. Their dinners with friends. Their outings and activities. Their daily schedules.
For many years my father sat in his comfortable chair writing financial figures in his ever-present notebook. He kept his pencil parked behind his ear within easy reach if he had an idea. He was thinking about starting a new business.
Something that wouldn’t deal with merchandise which would go bad, like lunch-meats.
He wanted to start a card shop.
He thought about it every day for many years.
Figuring expenditures, start-up costs, location.
My dad was a thoughtful guy. He considered, contemplated and brooded.
Sounds a little like me.
I’m pretty sure he was bored sitting at home. He had expected to keep working and being forced out of his business must have been an unwelcome surprise to him.
I vaguely remember teasing him about his endless figures and calculations.
“Dad,” I would say, “Enough already. Why don’t you just jump in? Take a chance? What is the worst that could happen?”
Well, he never told me the worst that could happen, but I’m sure he felt a bad investment would wipe out the chance of him and my mother enjoying a comfortable senior life experience. He was worried about their future.
Looking back, I guess he must have been about my age when he found himself sitting in that chair.
He never took action.
He was too conflicted about the outcome, the investment, the expense and the chance of failure. Plus, I think he was tired from all those 4am mornings and endless hours of sandwich making.
So he just sat down and stayed down.
I think my father forgot how to create new dreams.
Maybe this is an experience that all people of a certain age feel.
Because I’m drifting now too.
I do have a goal – I’m hoping to finally finish the science fantasy book I have been working on for the past two years.
I have to admit I don’t have high hopes for what happens after it is done, but I am pretty invested in at least finishing it.
Dreams become harder to manifest as you get older.
My dad couldn’t even manifest the dream of a card shop.
Someone recently asked me this question. “Don’t you still harbor any wild dreams that you would like to indulge in? Do you never picture yourself riding down the highway on a motorcycle?”
The question made me realize old dreams can fade.
So let’s share some of our hopes and dreams for this coming year. Crazy ideas are entirely welcome.
I’m hoping to jump start my own crazy ideas.
I remember my dad with his notebook in his lazy boy chair.
He spent a long time there.
Eventually he gave up on the notebook, but he never left the chair.