Jerry Seinfeld’s sitcom “Seinfeld” was a wonderful show because it found the humor in ordinary everyday life situations we all experience. I always laugh when I think of the Seinfeld episodes of Jerry going to visit his parents in Florida. Just to kick it off here is a video to give you context. Seinfeld clip- Kramer moves to Florida
This week I spent time in Florida with my Dad and his significant other of 12 years as well as my in-laws who recently moved to Florida. I have visited almost every year, early on with both my sons and then in later years either by myself or with one of my sons. Each time I visit I feel like I am in the middle of my own Seinfeld episode.
There is always that adjustment when you spend time living in the same house as your parents after leaving the nest so long ago. We have our own schedules and ways of doing things like when we eat, wake up, go to bed and how we approach our day. And in my case, my mother passed away and there was a “getting to know you” period with a new person in the picture. It can take a while on both sides and after all these years, I feel good that we have a very nice, warm and special relationship. What I have learned to do is find humor in it all and that hasn’t been hard to do. And so, the Seinfeld adventure begins.
I always refer to my destination as “Del Boca Vista” which is the fictional condominium complex where Jerry’s parents reside. It doesn’t matter which place my father rents as they all seem to have a similar flavor. The stories, the different characters, all present themselves like a sitcom.
Each time, no lack of stories.
The stories my father tells seem funnier and funnier. Most stories start with the person’s medical profile: blood pressure, cholesterol, past surgeries or illnesses, and then we move into the story.
Stories about the person you must avoid at all cost because he/she talks so much you can’t get away from him/her. And of course the more you try, the more you run into him/her. A story about the man at the airport who was creating a scene because they had lost his luggage. At one point officials called in security to control him. It was all about the fact that he needed his luggage ASAP and he wasn’t leaving without it. It turns out he had 6 pounds of frozen chicken inside his bag. I guess the price per pound was better at home.
Every visit, each time a helicopter would fly by I could always expect my father to say “There goes Tiger Woods” (Tiger lives close by.) This visit the Tiger Woods reference changed to “There goes Donald Trump.” (Mar a Lago, Trump’s estate is not far away.)
How many of you have noticed that our parents like to give us detailed directions of how to get to the store? ” Take a left at the stop sign, then a right, then drive up the road to the gas station and take a right, another left and then a sharp right. Hmmm. Scrap the map, I can’t read it anyway without my glasses and they have this new thing called GPS.
The best part of each visit is the “Who’s on First?” exchanges on a variety of topics like where we are going to go to dinner. The question comes up in the elevator and the conversation goes back and forth, side to side and every other direction. We get to the first floor and walk out of the elevator and my Dad says “So where do you want to go to dinner tonight?” as if we never even had the conversation.
Humor is good for your soul. We should all laugh a little bit more. We can all find humor in the parts of life that are not always so laughable. Sure there are ailments and people are losing their hearing and may repeat stories but the stories are good, and the chaos of “who’s on first” moments manageable and laughable.
All joking aside, what inspires me most is the way my father and his significant other approach their time in Florida. They are incredibly active, social, intellectually engaged and “hip”.
For years, the highlight of their trip has been taking classes at Florida Atlantic University. FAU offers programs as part of their life long learning society. Last visit to Florida, my son and I attended a “sell out” political science class called “Brazil in Metamorphosis”. The large lecture hall was completely filled. This visit I attended a music class exploring the works of Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber which was interesting and fun. The professor was a throw back from the 60’s with his wild, curly gray hair, hawaiian shirt and sandals. During the “restroom break” he pulled out his guitar and started singing his own, slightly off tune version of “Bring in the Clowns.”
Though I love the Seinfeld clip at the beginning, I must say is becoming outdated. This trip I noticed something different. Demographics are changing. Baby boomers who are in their 50’s are retiring early and filling the condo communities. Early bird dinners are the thing of the past and are replaced by Happy Hours from 4-6. You walk into restaurants and the crowd is diverse with people in their 20’s thru 80’s or even 90’s. There is a vibe and energy which I love.
Aging is not so easy. There are physical and emotional challenges for sure. I think it is all about the approach. My father seems to have it right. Keeping active, intellectually stimulated and socially active is the key to it all. And a “Happy Hour” or two thrown in the mix doesn’t hurt either.
Laughter is good for the soul and there was no lack of it on this trip. Special times for all of us and lasting memories as well.
Maybe I should replace the Seinfeld clip with this version of aging.
I read and recommend a wonderful book by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge M.D. called Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy- Until You’re 80 and Beyond. . It is a great read for yourself or to give to someone you know. Book link