In one of my Walter Mitty daydreams, I imagine having an essay broadcast on NPR or appearing on the Op-Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a piece I wrote for a local fiction writing group that sometimes has me as a member. Funnily enough, neither All Things Considered nor the Journal were interested. It’s not about estate planning or estate administration. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
My father died of cancer in 1978. He was just 60. I was only 21, with a man’s body but still a child’s mind. I so wish he could have known the adult me.
I wonder sometimes what would most surprise my Dad about America in 2014. So Dad, if this webpage is accessible on your side of the great divide, here are ten things you might not have seen coming.
First, the internet and cell phones are to this generation what the electrification of homes must have been for Nana and Grampa. I use this technology every day, yet don’t understand how even half of it works. Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law remains true – any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Second, cars are markedly more reliable and long lasting than in your day. My minivan has 332,000 miles and still has its original engine. The next new car I buy might be the last one I ever buy.
Next, the Red Sox. They waited until the 21st century to win the World Series, but they’ve done it not once, not twice, but three times now. I am not making this up.
Fourth, we’ve never been back to the moon. We’ve never even tried. We built this glorious space station in the 1990’s that orbits the earth, but we can only get there now if the Russians agree to take us on one of their space rockets.
And speaking of the Russians, we won the Cold War. Containment worked. The Soviet Union collapsed of its own sclerosis in the ten years after your earthly death. But that doesn’t mean peace reigneth. There’s a real sense in 2014 of a world spinning out of control.
Sixth, we have a black President. No, really. Well, to be precise, he’s our first mixed-race President. His mother was white, but his father was a black Marxist from Kenya. Yeah, it’s a long story.
Next, handwriting and penmanship are lost arts. About as important as Morse code or scrimshaw carving in your day. We type everything. The only thing I can write in script any more is my signature.
Eighth, gay marriage is now legal in many places and it looks like it will soon be legal in every state. It all happened with the speed of summer lightning through unelected judges.
Ninth, we’ve basically achieved energy independence. Another one of those things that happened practically overnight. Some new technology called fracking. We’re awash in oil and gas after decades of thinking we were running out.
You’d probably be surprised at how I’ve turned out. I own a small business and I married a woman who inherited a house on Nantucket. I know, unbelievable. You would love her. We have two great kids. One named after you. I would give anything if you could meet them.
But, sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I could swear it’s you looking back at me. So, maybe you have met them. I’m not sure of many things, but I am sure of this – there is an eternity and it is both stranger and more glorious than I can imagine.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. God bless. I sure miss you.