I called my father the day after Christmas to ask how he was doing and he told me he didn’t have time to talk because my brother was just about to pick him up to take him to the shopping mall to buy half-price holiday wrapping paper to use next year.
Being a Canadian he is “frugal by nature” and has done this sort of thing all his life; and upon hearing the sincerity in his voice I began to congratulate him on his frugality as I remembered accompanying him on similar bargain hunting expeditions in the past. (Discussing where to find the lowest price on toilet paper or toothpaste is an equally serious matter in my family, and I don’t want to admit how many cases of diapers my mother purchased on seniors discount day at the local pharmacy).
My mirth was short-lived however, as he quickly corrected me, stating that at the age of almost 83 he’s no longer being frugal, he is simply being optimistic that he will be around next Christmas to actually use this paper.
As his own mother lived to be 93, I told him I didn’t think it was likely that it would go to waste and told him to enjoy his day. Thinking about this later, however, it dawned on me that my father has pretty much always been a long-term planner.
When we were young, he planned for our education so far in advance that he put my brother on the waiting list for the boy’s school in our area the week he was born; he planned our summer vacations at least a year in advance, and he planned for his retirement from the time he was thirty so successfully that he was able to leave work permanently in his mid-fifties.
He persists with this simple strategy to this day. Never one to talk much about the past unless there is a point to the story, he constantly has his eye on his next trip to Europe, or Hawaii, or Bermuda, and is full of details of what he will do when he gets there.
Some people might question why it is that he has never slowed down, but frankly I don’t think it would be in his nature to consider doing that; he is very involved in the daily life of his granddaughter and plans to attend her high school graduation in about seven years, and I am quite optimistic that he will achieve this goal.
The more I think about it, the more I like the way he thinks – he simply plans to get out of bed every morning and keep going as long as he possibly can.