My dad celebrated his 83rd birthday Monday. At first glance, most take him for being in his late 60s. I believe his youthfulness results from his northern Italian ancestry as well as a lifetime of organic gardening, home cooking, activity, traveling and learning.
In addition to sharing — with me — his enjoyment of sailing the Great Lakes, skiing and staying active, here are some lessons I have learned from him through the years.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When life throws me a curve, I do my best to channel my dad’s calm demeanor. Keeping things in perspective leads to better problem-solving and keeps life from becoming overly complicated.
2. Patience is invaluable. I wish I could claim this attribute. But, alas, I still loose my cool when my children refuse to dress themselves, share or go to bed.
3. Appreciation for good food and drink. Both of my late grandparents were born and raised in Pinerolo, Italy. When they migrated to Highland Park, Mich. their passion for organic farming and home cooking remained. There is not a chef on this planet who could out cook my grandma anyway.
4. Age is just a number. My dad doesn’t look or behave like a typical 83-year-old man. He travels, volunteers for his local Meals on Wheels charity, creates beautiful wood furniture, and stays informed with a daily read of the Wall Street Journal.
5. Enjoy the view. Much to the chagrin of his passengers on family road trips, my dad is a master at commandeering a car while also viewing scenic mountain vistas. Vivid, bare-knuckle, recalls of traversing switchbacks through the Alps and along Route 1 in California are common.