Yes. I am blessed. I live with Rosemary, my wife of 50 years (not counting the time before marriage!) in a large brown shingled house. On the floor above, my daughter Elizabeth Muller lives with her husband Rahal along with my two grandchildren. On the floor above lives my wife’s father, 97 years old. He gets to see his great-grandchildren every day. Four generations in one house.
We babysit every Saturday night through Sunday afternoon. How many grandparents can brag of that? On Sunday morning we usually bring the grandkids to the zoo, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, or just to the local playground to ride their bikes.
I cook dinner for Rosemary four nights each week, including a family dinner on Sundays. Rosemary cooks three nights and does special breakfasts on the weekends. (Strawberry shortcake this morning!)
On the floor beneath mine we have our offices for Berkeley Earth (a non-profit) and for Deep Isolation (for profit someday, we hope). My daughter is the CEO of both, and I am the CTO. She complains that her commute is twice as long as mine (two stories, vs one).
Life is not easy, but it is not meant to be. But I am blessed. This is the life I want.
My parents sit at home and watch TV all day. They snuggle on the couch together with a blue blanket and a space heater in front. A Korean comedy show is on. Dad has his collection of snacks in a basket on his left, Doritos and Cheetos. Mom chooses to eat the bread crusts she cut away from the egg sandwiches she prepared for last Sunday’s snacks time. She hates throwing away food. When I separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, she tells me to save the egg yolks so she can eat them later.
They don’t have many friends but they don’t need them. They laugh at each other’s jokes. My dad still rolls his eyes when my mom nags him for not picking up his socks. They kiss each other on the mouth after a long day of work. Anytime, one of their sons come home (they have 3 of them), they love to cook for them. Many times, they’ll awkwardly sit in front of them and watch them eat. Just because. It makes them happy.
For a long time, I struggled to understand this. I would think to myself, ‘Don’t they want more out of life?’
Look at Elon Musk. He’s changing the world through space exploration and alternative energy sources. Look at Uber and WhatsApp. They’re revolutionizing the world through technology.
Look at my friends on Instagram who have parents that love to be social. They look like they’re having so much fun together. Big parties with lots of friends. Isn’t that cool? Doesn’t that matter? Don’t they want to be a part of that?
I do. I’m sure my parents do too.
But they’re happy with their lives as well. She likes cutting the crusts off sandwiches for our church members to enjoy. She likes eating 4 day old bread crusts out of a plastic bag so she doesn’t have to throw away food. My dad likes eating Doritos and being a little overweight even though he knows he should eat healthier. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re too comfortable and should want more out of life.
Then I stop myself. Who am I to say what they should want out of life? They’re happy with the life they have. I’m learning to be happy with my life now too.
I live at home with my parents who bake me banana bread and ask me what I want from the supermarket. I don’t get to bring girls from the club who wear short skirts back home with me, but I like my mom’s banana bread. I like snuggling in between my parents on the couch and watching Korean comedy shows sometimes. I want a six-pack but I’ll ask my dad to pass the Doritos.
Sometimes, I’d rather be living in an penthouse in NYC. That seems like a nice life to have.
But the life I have now is nice too.
Picture of the dynamic duo. / Image Credit: Daniel Ahn