I can’t take advice from my father anymore. That sentence is such a shock to write, but I’ve recently discovered it’s absolutely true. I can’t take advice from my father. Wow.
You would have called me crazy for writing that a couple years ago if you’d known me and you’d known my father. I was an irresponsible 22-year-old back then and my father was about the sanest, most thoughtful, simple-hearted and sweetest man out there. He did everything right in life, even if right often meant boring.
My father, two years ago, worked as an accountant. He had saved up and bought his first house with half the money down and paid it off the rest in less than a decade. He invested smartly in the market, never in anything too risky. At 55, two years ago, he had no debt, a massive retirement fund, and kids who, unlike their peers, would not owe a cent to their universities for their educations.
Then, my dad met Cindy. I can’t blame him for meeting her. My parents were separated at the time. My mom, and this is one of the great ironies in all this, said she felt her life was being wasted living such a dull existence. Well, she went out and married a tax lawyer after my dad, and my dad married Cindy.
Cindy is…something. She’s a waitress at a bar, still, even though she’s with my dad and my dad is worth a fortune. She spent her twenties and thirties traveling around the world doing odd jobs, married to odd people. She has one kid, whom she had when she was 19 and left with her parents who did most of the raising. His name is Derek and he calls his mom Cindy just like the rest of us.
I’m not trying to say she’s not a nice person. She is really nice. She’s a lot of fun too. I can see why my dad likes her and I like her well enough too, except for what she’s done to my dad.
Gone is the safe, stable man I grew up trusting and respecting. He’s cashing in on his retirement to travel. He’s playing dangerous games with the market, making big, risky investments. He’s gambling as well.
Now, he wants to ride a motorcycle. He’s got one all picked out. When I told him like he told me for years, that motorcycle accidents are terribly common and terribly dangerous when they occur, he just laughed and said I was getting too worked up over nothing.
I don’t know. In some ways, I like the new dad. He’s loosened up, and he looks happy, which I see now he rarely did when I was growing up. But I miss the old dad too, the one I knew I could rely on. The one whose advice was always sound, even if it wasn’t the most exciting advice.
I’m 24, I don’t need to hear “get out there and live.” I have that urge down fine. I need to hear the old, smart advice of my old dad. But he’s gone now, and I just don’t have anyone to get advice from anymore.