Years ago, my dad called to tell me how many Mondays each of us had left to work in our careers. My number was large enough to cause despair. Since he’d started a new career in mid-life, his was smaller, but was still way too many.
I always had young parents. They dated at fifteen and sixteen, married at seventeen and eighteen, and had me at twenty and twenty-one. There were boys I went to high-school with who flirted with my mom because she looked so young.
When I was out of college my dad was still young enough to play basketball after work with his buddies. The picture from our on-a-whim day-trip to Mexico shows his arm in a cast from the break he got falling on the court. And mom was still young enough to have fun at the Corona Club and Crosby’s.
But even Mondays go by quickly. Last week I took the day off to drive to Fort Worth for my dad’s retirement reception. After twenty-seven years at his new job, they gave him a cake, a bell, and well-wishes. Many nice men showed up who were sincere when they said they’d call him soon for lunch, but who never will. They talked and shook hands and drank punch and laughed and went back to work.
My dad is one of the few people I know who regularly gets to work before me. When I log in to my Outlook account in the morning, I’ve always felt better knowing he’s just an email away. But the day after his retirement, he called to laugh because I was at work and he wasn’t, and if I email him now I’ll get no response.
For years my parents have looked forward to my dad’s retirement. The trips they would take, and the things they would do. And the Mondays went by, and my young mother’s doctor said she had four months to live. And the Mondays became more precious, and four months’ worth passed. It’s been a year and a half, and the Mondays still pass.
Daddy’s work Mondays are over. Mine are now what his were when he called me those years ago before babies were born and grew into teenagers, and friends and grandparents died, and the world changed in so many ways.
The retirement my parents looked forward to is not the one they will know. They are on their long-planned trip to the northeast, but they never imagined they’d need oxygen and walkers and wheel-chairs for a sixty-five-year-old. Somehow the cancer has affected my mother’s mind. She told me they were going on a graduation trip, but soon after thought that I was the one going. She’s no longer sure where they are going, but she’s still happy they are going.
When I think now that I have as many working Mondays as my dad had when he called, it no longer seems like too many, but too few.