Time is a Great Healer, but a Lousy Beautician.
I love my father, and it’s been a joy seeing him, at nearly 85, be such a foundational part of our MEA community in Baja when he visits me twice a year.
But, I have to admit that as Stephen Townsend Conley, Jr, a “chip” off the old block, the oldest and only son of my mom and dad, I was weighed down by heavy expectations. My dad was my little league baseball coach, and I was the star pitcher. My dad was an Eagle Scout and the head of our Boy Scout troop. Of course, I became an Eagle Scout as well.
In short, my dad’s path became my path: the same high school sport, college, and fraternity life (different frat, though). We even had the same college major, and we both got our MBAs. It wasn’t until I came out as a gay man at age 22 that my dad and I had a serious and necessary conversation suggesting I was on a different path. While I was never going to become the Marine Captain my dad was, I found my own path, with considerable support from him, even after some initial deep disappointment on his part.
Over the next few years, we had our challenges, that’s for sure, but over time, we’ve become close friends, and he and I both enjoy our Baja backroads off-roading.
Yet, I can see my physical future by studying my dad. My waistline resembles his, and if the size of our waists defines gut instinct, we both have a lot of intuition. My dad’s skin is also as fragile as china. Not surprisingly, I have more than a dozen “ouches” on my legs at this moment. And while Dad looks younger than his age, he’s a man full of wrinkles and sun spots, which leaves me only to imagine my skin’s future, especially living in Mexico.
While healthy habits can offer an alternative path from our parents, we need to get comfortable with the fact that as much as half of how we look and feel may be defined by our genes. While time may be a cruel beautician, I appreciate that I can have as positive a perspective on aging as my father.