Since both our mother and stepmother were pretty much out of the loop when it came to my sister and me, our dad had to supply all the information and advice two young girls needed. Dad spoke to us about careers (given the times being when they were, he thought we should be teachers “in case our husbands died and we had to go to work.”).
Dad wrote his advice while we were in college and I am delighted to say that I still have the letter telling me that “nice girls do not go to boy’s apartments.” He continued handing out advice for many years–well forever–since he always thought that his ideas were the best (and usually they were).
One time Dad visited me in Arizona. I wanted him to meet all my friends, especially my two favorite men of the moment. We went to lunch with Man #1 Mike and had dinner that evening with Man #2 Forest. I had also proudly shown my dad my corner office which I had just been promoted into.
I thought Dad would be happy to see how wonderful my life was, but his next letter let me know what he thought. Dad wrote that friends take a lot of time and that there are obligations with each friend a person has. He said that the more people you have in your life, the more things you are required to do for them. He was worried that I had too many people to worry about and that perhaps it was taking something away from my work. He closed by saying:
You seem to be able to balance everything, so perhaps you don’t need my advice.
Well, of course I needed his advice–just not right then. Right now is a good time for me to reflect on my number of friends and the responsibilities those friends and family create. Birthday and sympathy cards are something I buy frequently. Phone calls take place several times a day as my sisters and I share our lives with one another. I am involved in my church, the library, and a P.E.O. chapter. It is all not only fun, but it makes life so much richer.
Looking back, I realize Dad put a lot of time into his family–mostly because he was both the mother and the father. He also had a few close friends that he did a lot for. Other than that, Dad was not a person to have lots of friends or to get involved in community groups. He had many acquaintances, but he took his own advice and was devoted to his work.
I am lucky. While I have had interesting work, it has never been my whole life. I enjoy all the people in my life and love having lots of marvelous friends and a wonderful family. Making time is the easy part.