Today, June 4, 2022, is the 45th anniversary of my father’s passing in 1977. With that in mind, I am reposting a piece I wrote eight years ago to mark the day I ‘out-lived’ him.
Yesterday marked the thirty-seventh anniversary of my father’s passing. He was born on September 21, 1922, and passed away on June 4, 1977, at the age of 54. A wee bit of math shows that he died exactly 109 days short of his 55th birthday. I was born on September 22, 1959, which means that today I am 109 days shy of my 55th birthday. Today I am the exact age my father was when he passed away. Tomorrow I will be older than my father ever was.
I am far from unique in this, but it does provide me with food for thought. I imagine this thoughtfulness is a more acute phenomenon for people who, like me, lost a parent at a young age. With people living longer and longer, “outliving” your parents is the assumed end result. As each generation benefits from better nutritional knowledge and medical advancements it only stands to reason that folks will live longer than their parents did.
But I believe the earlier you cross this lifespan Rubicon, the more it makes you think. By the time my father was my age he had fought in World War Two, been married for thirty years, worked at Seagram’s distillery for twenty-five years (an irony, as he was essentially teetotal, having a drink only on rare occasions such as weddings) – receiving his congratulatory watch mere months before passing – and was the father of three, and grandfather of one.
Because of the efforts of my father and millions of other volunteers, I have been spared military service and war. I had the opportunity to earn two university degrees, yet have had several “careers” of varying lengths, ranging from months-long to sixteen years in duration, with no golden watch looming on the horizon.
I can take a picture with my mobile phone; he wasn’t a big fan of the telephone that hung on our kitchen wall. He bought tickets from a streetcar/bus driver while I charge my bus pass and scan it to gain entry to the Metro and bus.
He read a newspaper and took tablets for various aches and pains. I read the newspaper on a tablet.
Having birthdays one day apart, I like to think we had many things in common as well as the above differences that are all environmental in nature. An interesting birthday story: while I missed being a birthday gift for my father by several hours, I was a present for my grandmother with whom I shared a birthday until her passing. Moreover, my maternal grandfather signed his World War One Canadian Expeditionary Force attestation paper on September 22, 1914 while his as yet unknown to him future wife was celebrating her 22nd birthday in London.