Making My Vocation My Vacation

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It amazes me how inconsistent the phenomenon of age is. Numerous times I’ve had a conversation with one of my young tennis students that goes something like this, “How old are you, Hannah?” “I’m five-and-a-half.” “How about that. You’re the same age as Anna.” “Oh no, she’s not my age. She just turned five.” For a kid a year is a very long time, but as I approached middle age the years seemed to fly by at an ever-quickening pace. Each of us only has so many years allotted to us before we pass on. I had my first experience with the death of someone close to me in 1971. Mom was diagnosed with cancer while I was in Europe, and she died less than a month after my return. My dad’s mother, who lived adjacent to us in Santa Barbara, died a month later. Mom was fifty-eight and hadn’t lived either a long or a full life. Grandma was ninety-four and had lived too long. Life is not always fair, which was a lesson I learned and saw repeated more than once. I graduated with a two-year degree slanted toward English in 1973, and I married Kira later the same year. Dad had moved into his mother’s house while Kira, Deb, and I assumed tenancy at the old homestead next door. Kira’s family had a summer cottage on Grenadier Island. This is the same island where Heffernan’s Restaurant was located, but their residence was on the west side rather than the east, and at the head of the island rather than the foot. The Duke location had the convenience of being situated closer to the neighboring communities of Rockport, Ontario and Alexandria Bay, New York. The west side of the island faces the Canadian mainland while the east side faces the Seaway. The Grenadier setting was more tranquil and the boating traffic was subdued compared to Comfort Island where ... ... middle of paper ... ... twice a week, but hitting tennis balls together, going fishing, taking a hike, or attending a professional sporting contest was a rare occurrence. My experience with these activities was usually with a friend or under the direction of a private camp program. I felt I missed out on something important not having a closer parent-child relationship with Mom and Dad. It helped me to appreciate that it is important for kids to have someone that is receptive to listening to their concerns. I made a point of talking to kids like I would talk to an adult. I treated them as equals, and I had a genuine interest in what was on their mind. Because I treated kids the way I did, I built rapport with them. As they became adults themselves, I didn’t have to shift gears and take on a new persona around them. We had already established a line of communication that works at any age.

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