It has become my father’s routine to spend at least part of the winter with us here in Florida. And though he lives in Louisiana where winters are hardly frigid, he like so many others is drawn to the weather. And then of course there is Spring Training. Our house is about three miles from the Rays training facility at the Charlotte Sports Park so that’s a big draw.
At 91, he is in remarkably good health and though I know he’d be fine to fly by himself, I feel better traveling to his house and returning with him. Besides, it gives me an excuse to visit family in the area.
Since I’m available, I help him get his things together and pack his suitcase. There again, he could do it himself, but I like to spoil him. According to our regular routine, he picks out his clothes, I fold them and put them in large plastic zipper bags, squeezing out the air. He began packing that way years ago and I’m loathe to break tradition.
As I began the process the day before we left, I was struck by how few items of clothing he selected. There was a linen suit to wear to church, one white dress shirt, three or four polo shirts, one pair of long pants and three pairs of shorts.
Now it is important to note that Daddy is a bit of a clothes horse. He often decides he “needs” a new suit or cowboy boots or, most recently, a pair of custom-made black watch plaid pants. Once he makes a decision, he acts on it. Guess that’s part of being 91.
Anyway, back to the packing. I asked him if he didn’t think we should take a few more clothes. After all, he is planning to be with us for nearly two months. He assured me he had taken out enough to last him through the visit.
As I contemplated his view on packing for a trip — and to be sure, I did not argue, but snuck in a couple more shirts before I closed the suitcase — I thought about his minimalist approach. He did point out that I have a perfectly good washer and dryer at our house and so why would he need more? Since my husband and I are planning a trip to Europe in a few weeks, I compared his mindset to how we struggle to fit everything we consider necessities in the two large suitcases we check, not including the carry-ons.
Daddy comes from a more frugal time when one shirt on, one in the wash and one in the closet was all any person needed, let alone could afford. He is now, luckily, in a position to be handling clothing extravagances, but when he packs for a trip, he reverts to his old ways. Maybe there is a lesson in all of this, that basic needs are enough, that excess only breeds more of the same. I’m going to approach packing for my next trip with a different mindset, maybe.
About Kathy Silverberg
Board Chair of Senior Friendship Centers' Board of Governors, Kathy is currently a newspaper columnist/ freelance writer, and previously was Southern Region Publisher for the Sarasota Herald Tribune and Editor/General Manager of four New York Times regional newspapers. She serves as liaison between United Way of Charlotte County and the Senior Friendship Centers. She is past chair of the Board of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, is a board member and past president for United Way of Charlotte County; and, is chair of Charlotte County’s Senior Leadership Council.
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