Things I Don’t Want My Sons to Learn After 50

Two graduations loom: Christopher from West Point this Saturday, and Matthew the following Friday from North Gwinnett High.  Matt will be taking his path to West Point sometime this summer, and then Mary and I will be empty-nesters.  Andrew’s lived in Orlando since his graduation from Mercer in 2005.  Seems like a good time to recreate the James Cosmo-Brendan Gleeson father-son scene from “Braveheart”, only me skipping having the gaping, mortal wounds…

  • TAKE CARE OF THE TEETH  I used to be an adherent to transcendentalism, the belief that a session of scrupulous flossing and brushing right before a dental appointment would make up for six months of neglect.  It took bouts of gingivitis and pyorrhea, several deep scalings, and numerous root canals and crown fittings over the years to come to the true faith of flossing, proxy brushing between the teeth, power brushing, and Listerine before bedtime.  So easy, cost-effective, and painless: the last 3 years have seen healthy gums and routine dental visits.  There’s a reason Peter Ustinov checked Kirk Douglas’ teeth in “Spartacus”: if your teeth and gums are good, you’re good.
  • MAKE YOUR RESUME A LIVING DOCUMENT  Update it regularly with every thing you do that makes or saves the company money, or solves its major problems.  Keep supporting documentation for these accomplishments; i.e. if you put “led project that cut shipping costs by 40%” on your resume, be prepared to share just how you know that.  Keep detailed records of key dates, compensation, titles, etc.  If you need to produce these facts 20 years after the fact (e.g. when applying for a government job), don’t count on your memory or former organization being able to supply them – or indeed that organization still being in existence!
  • SKIP THE RUNNING  You are all big-boned structurally imperfect lunks like your father.  Exercise, but choose activities easy on the feet, back, and joints, like watching NFL football on TV.  If you are more than 5’6” and 120 lbs, you are going to pay a price later in life if you do a lot of running.  You are all going to get fat and very slow-moving like me, so embrace it.
  • DON’T GET SUCKED IN BY NORA EPHRON MOVIES  Sure that woman “just right for you” lives in Tierra del Fuego or one of the Fiji Islands, but you two are never going to meet so make the best of it with the shrieking harridan God put into your life, and love her as Christ loves the Church.  Because when you think about it, that just-right guy for her lives in Moscow or Belgium, but she’s putting up with your flatulence, sink hair, and leaving the seat up instead of cleaning out the accounts and hopping on Aeroflot in search of Sergei, and that counts for something.
  • WHEN SOMETHING WITH A SPRAYER DOESN’T SPRAY, DON’T LOOK INTO THE SPRAYER WHILE CONTINUING TO TEST IT  Something I actually learned from my Dad, when as a young child I came home with a boo-boo and the big goof tried to apply some Mediquik, and…you can guess the rest.
  • BASKETBALL IS NOT LIFE  You’re white, you’re native-born Americans, and you have my DNA.  Let’s face it, when the best of the best are arguably Kevin Love and Kirk Hinrich…
  • PUT YOUR TRUST IN JESUS   Other fallen human beings are going to let you down.  The Church – in the person of its individual fallen human beings – is going to let you down.  You are going to let yourself down.  But Jesus Christ – if you trust and believe in him and his infinite ocean of mercy – will never let you down.  Take him seriously when he says “Strive to be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect”, because he’s dead serious.  It’s the only thing he cares about in regards to you; none of your earthly accomplishments matter.  All that matters is that you try to love as He loves.

God bless you sons, and bless us all!

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