Even though my wife surprised the crap out me with a surprise party back in July, I turn 60 on September 16th. If a man can't reflect on his life at 60, then when so here goes...
I never liked the word "lucky". It implies somehow “getting something you had no business getting”, like winning 50 million dollars in the lottery. I prefer the word "fortunate" (or even "blessed"), because somehow those words imply that one had some small influence in an outcome.
A salesman friend once said to me "Stanley is so lucky to have gotten Maggie Sottero” (one of the hottest bridal lines a few years back - for my non-bridal friends reading this). I replied, "I totally disagree! Not only did he pay his dues by being one of the most respected reps in our industry for 40 plus years, but also he was smart enough to see the potential of the line long before it was anything "special". Getting the line had nothing to do with luck.
I am including a few pictures from our family vacation at the beach in The Outer Banks, NC last month, where we have been "fortunate" enough to be able to rent a beach house for a week for the past 15 years. It is the highlight of The Grass Family Year - mostly because we get to spend 7 days together as a family again - it’s almost like being able to go back in time! And to think that our kids want to spend a week of vacation with their parents humbles us. I sure wouldn’t have when I was their age.
The up-to-date family portrait now includes a beautiful wife, 4 sons (who are my grandest achievement), 2 loving Daughters-in-law, 2 "significant others", and the new loves of my life - my 3 grandchildren. Now I have posted family pictures before, and I DO appreciate the comments I get about "how beautiful of a family I have". They have great genes (LOL) so of course they are beautiful, but its what you can't see in the photo that makes them all so special. These are the finest young men you will ever meet, and my heart soars when I get to "talk" about them. They learned from their Mother early on what a wife should be, and they chose their spouses well. 2 of them are the heads of their family now, and they are experiencing first hand what a joy (and how difficult it is) to be parents - and they seemed to have "paid close attention" growing up in our home.
Carol and I made a decision 35 years ago that we wanted a stay-at-home Mom in our family, and we sacrificed much to make that happen. Now I totally respect any woman who chooses a career as a life path, and I'm sure there are tons of GREAT mothers reading this who either out of choice or necessity sent their kids to daycare. But we decided early on that for us, it would be better for our boys to have their mother be home 24/7. The plan was supposed to last until they went to school, but the plan WASN'T having 4 kids, and every time it was possible to consider going back to work, Carol announced that she was pregnant again; and things just kind of self-perpetuated.
As a side note, our son Andrew approached Carol 4 years ago right after Devyn was born (and right before Lindsay had to go back to work after Maternity leave) to find out if she would be willing to help out a few days a week by taking care of Devyn (and then Devyn and Madison) when Lindsay went back to work part time. His pitch was "We all experienced first hand what it was like having you at home all the time when we were young, and I would like my girl(s) to be able to have that as well". Like I said, “my boys paid attention growing up in our home”, and obviously Andrew developed some "serious sales skills" to come up with that sales pitch to Carol. He "closed" that deal immediately as Carol "volunteered" for the babysitting gig, and she still gets up at 6:45AM twice a week to watch Nanny’s "girlies". In fairness, it is the highlight of her week! She starts next week watching Sullivan (our 10 week-old grandson) one day a week as well. Bottom line is she was born to be a Mother (and a Grandmother).
Further reflection finds me in good health living in a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood in Chester County, PA. I have a job I love, am able to be off every summer and every winter, and Carol and I are quite happy to be the only 2 people living in a 5-bedroom house. We have no interest in downsizing to a smaller home, as this house is where we raised our family (and grew up together). We are also blessed that for the time being...all 4 of our sons live in Chester County - something that we don't take for granted as they all live within 30 minutes of us. Our plan is to stay here as long as we can take care of the house, and hopefully watch our grandchildren spend most Sunday Afternoons in the summer swimming in the pool and watching their Fathers barbecue at PopPop's outdoor kitchen (watching the 4 boys take over for their dad as Grillmeisters cooking dinner with a beer in their hands and talking fantasy football is worth the price of admission).
Speaking of "health", I am a Kidney Cancer Survivor and just had my first 6 month Cat scan, which came back "perfectly clean". I am in the best shape of my life practicing Bikram Yoga 2-3 times a week, and it saved my life a few years back when I developed a very serious medical condition (Google “Bikram Yoga” some time).
I have a small group or really close friends who I cherish, and I have 2 sisters and a brother-in law and their families whom I adore. I have another huge group of the best bridal/social occasion store owners in the Northeast who I am also proud to call my friends, and the way they have treated me over my 25 year career can not be put properly into words.
And finally I am truly "blessed" to have found someone like Carol to share 40 of my 60-year ride with me. A friend once told me that I am not the easiest person to live with (as did my Doctor), and although difficult to admit, they were probably right. She has supported me through good times and bad, taken care of me when I was sick, did a huge part of the parenting while I travelled (and changed ALL of the diapers), and has been my biggest cheerleader.
Lucky? Fortunate? Blessed?
Maybe I was wrong...
I AM the luckiest man in the world.