Over the Hill.
When I was 10, my mom died from breast cancer. A few years before that, my dad turned 40. We threw a party for him at our ranch-style suburban house. It’s one of the strongest memories I have of us as a nuclear family.
I remember the sunny day at our beige and brick home in Bayside, Wisconsin, 15 minutes north of Milwaukee. I remember the plates and cups. They read “Over the Hill.”
I remember my mom in a wheelchair. I remember my brother in his Umbros. I remember Sasha, our black lab, hoping people would drop food in the freshly mowed grass. I remember my dad looking good as he mingled, sporting a full head of dark hair. He could have been an extra in a mafia movie — a muscular 5 foot 7 with a thick dark mane combed backward. My mom had no hair left after many rounds of chemo, but her head was wrapped beautifully in a blue silk scarf that had swans on it.
I’m 40 now.
It’s hard to believe. Especially when I think of that boy watching my dad celebrate his 40th. I remember eating cake from those “Over the Hill” plates with their wacky, celebratory font. If I close my eyes, I’m there.
Now I’m Over the Hill? Okay.
I’ve often reminded him over the past decade that I’m almost 40 as an explanation of why I don’t want his advice. His love language is advice, so I try to keep our conversations to things that have happened, not what might happen, because I don’t want his generation’s worries put on me. If what might happen comes up, there will be advice. There will be worry. There will be a moment where I’ll want to say “Dad, I know, I’m almost 40!”
At 40, my dad is still here. He’s just getting closer to 80 now. He’s getting old, and I worry about when he won’t be here. I love him deeply, but our relationship, like many father-son relationships, is two different sides of the same coin.
I’m deeply grateful to my Pops. Often, I see myself in him in the best possible way. I know he sees himself in me. Also, I see myself wanting to prove to him that all of his fears are wrong.