My father was not wild about the idea of a cane. Now, at 83, he has transformed this sign of age and weakness into yet another expression of his dignity and poise. On most days, he walks a mile from his house to his office. He has the posture of an admiral, the precision of a surveyor as he steps across Mt. Auburn Street to the Post Office. His bamboo cane is more for information about the pavement and balance than for bodily support.
We meet for lunch once a week when I’m in Cambridge, Mass. He loves it when my iPhone calendar burps and I need to call him up for a reminder about the lunch plan he scribbled in the pocket calendar he always keeps in his sportscoat pocket. When it became clear that neither one of us could remember whose turn it was to pay, we began writing that down, too. We alternate among four restaurants. I always enjoy our conversations, even though discussion of the present Administration is now best skirted for the sake of comity. There are plenty of other things to talk about. I always learn something from our lunches. I always feel proud walking beside this strikingly handsome man, moving at our shared slow pace along the crowded sidewalks of Harvard Square.
I am a father who has not yet earned his cane. My two daughters live in Cambridge and fill me with pride at the accelerating pace and originality of their lives. I am a grandfather, too, amazed to enter a four-year-old boy’s world from carpet level, remembering dimly the joy of making up new worlds each hour, with the help of stuffed animals and trucks.
To all the fathers in the house: Profound thanks.