Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dirty Old Man

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The kids and I arrived this afternoon at a resort in Coronado, San Diego. We will be here for three days, having our mini vacation. I found a good deal on Expedia, and also decided that the kids deserved a bit of luxury after a very difficult year. All of their eyes were wide open as we arrived, taking in the beautiful surroundings.

I'm having to remind myself to let go of my worries about money. I have some money put aside for long term goals, such as the kids education, which I don't usually touch. If money runs out during our week, then I just stop spending. I make it a point to not touch the funds. Yet, I realized that we really needed a break from the harsh reality that is our day to day life. We have only been here a few hours, and it is already paying off.

The boys are in heaven. They have already played basketball, tennis, swam in the pools, played playstation in the teen room, and charged beverages to the room several times. I'm sure I will regret this later, but for now they are feeling great. I'm not going to rain on their parade.

Earlier my oldest two kids were swimming in the pool, and I didn't see my youngest, Remy. I walked around the pool area, and eventually found him sitting at the bar, enjoying a virgin pina colada. I had to laugh. Just now we came down for dinner, and he was walking around with a dress shirt, jeans and dark aviator glasses. He is really living the high life.

This is priceless. Well, maybe not priceless, but memorable.

My daughter has been with me most of the day, being very adult. She also brought her dog, so she is running to the room often to play with him, and take him out now and then. As for me, I spent most of the afternoon sitting on a lounge chair by the pool, just taking it all in.

When I booked us at this resort I knew what I would be exposing myself to, happy vacationing families. For the most part, that is what I see. I have made a conscious decision to wish each couple well as I come across them. I don't want to go to that dark place, or to spend the next three days feeling envious. I want to enjoy my kids, and be happy for all the families around me. Earlier one of the pool guys gave me some props for the tattoos on my back. He had some questions, such as the usual, how painful were they? Very painful. At the end of the afternoon he saw me walking across the pool area with my daughter. My daughter said he probably thinks I'm a dirty old man, vacationing with this young woman. So I looked back at him and explained this is my daughter. He laughed, and shouted at her, hey you gold digger! Very funny.

Once we were upstairs in the room my daughter started surveying the place. Right away she said, "I'm going to take the note cards for Mike." I laughed. Then I reminded her, "Now don't forget to little bottles of shampoo." More laughter. This was because where ever Michael and I vacationed, he was always coming back with everything he considered complimentary. To Michael, complimentary meant anything not nailed to the floor. I would tell him, "now Michael, we don't need all those small bottles of toiletries." But to Michael, this was the perks of staying at a hotel. He would respond with, "we might need them. Next time we travel you will be happy that I brought these home." I would roll my eyes, take a breath, and say, "okay, but not everything."

Michael grew up in less fortunate circumstances than I, which probably contributed to this behavior. Even now, I still stumble upon some of his treasures when I am going through our things at home. All those little bottles now feel like they are made of pure gold. I treasure them so much.

As the kids were reminding me, the last time we stayed at a nice hotel, or resort, as a family, was when we went to Hawaii about 2 1/2 years ago. I have a picture of Michael and I sitting by the pool, with my arm around him, smiling. I often now look at the picture, and think of how innocent we were at the time. Little did we know that within a few months he would be diagnosed with a brain tumor, and would be on the operating table. Now I look at the photo of us, and look deep into Michael's eyes. Now I see that he had to have been sick already, yet we had no idea.

Fast forward to today, and I am sitting alone by the pool as the kids laugh, and play, in the water. I look around the pool area, and watch all the loving couples interact. Many of them are young, and maybe on their honeymoon. Others are near my age, and enjoying a vacation with their kids. Yet, my eyes also fixate on a few young guys, either there by themselves, or with a friend. I realize that not so long ago I would have thought of myself as just like them. I took very good care of myself, and although I am 50, I was able to turn a few heads as well. In other words, I was still in the game.

These days I no longer feel like a young 50. I feel like an old 50. Make sense? I have been through too much to be naive about life. I have been through too much to entertain the idea of cruising, or flirting. I am merely a spectator at this point. I feel like I have aged, and that my heart and soul have aged. Perhaps one day I will find myself in these same circumstances, and feel differently. Losing your spouse is like losing your fountain of youth. No, having Michael in my life didn't stop the aging process, but it certainly made me feel young, and alive. When he died, part of me died. Now that he is gone, I am missing that which allowed me to feel youthful.

I don't mean this to be a downer, or to say that I will always feel this way. But at this time in my life, this time in my grieving process, I am content with where I find myself. I can sit back, watch the rest of the world enjoy their youthfulness and vitality. I am happy to just sit, enjoy the view, and feel like a dirty old man.


  1. I am so glad you are doing this for the kids and also for yourself. You talk about seeing the other "families" having fun with their kids. To them, you look like just an ordinary Dad having fun with his kids. Perhaps they think you are divorced--they would never think of you as a widow--it wouldn't occur to them. Just a Dad, having a great vacation with his kids.

  2. Thanks for the comment Jude. We are having a wonderful time.

  3. i have to agree with Judy. few people look at us and think, "widower" or "grief-stricken." when people ask, "how are you?" i sometimes wonder if they really want to know. but all the same, i hope you have a peaceful time laying about in the sun, watching your children play, and hold the memories of Michael close. and, according to Baz Luhmann, "wear sunscreen."