Happy Father's Day 2021
This Sunday, we will be celebrating Father’s Day. Honestly, this holiday just doesn’t get the recognition of Mother’s Day. I don’t get flowers for Roger or an interesting gift. He gets a card and a nice dinner or lunch…and he’s always appreciative and never seems to mind.
In today’s Musings I want to especially remember all Dads. In doing so, I will add celebrating Father’s Day with words from Bruce and Scott on each of them being a Dad this past Covid year.
“Maybe you need to start travelling again.”
My lovely wife, Lise, said those exact words to me about 20 minutes ago, and that statement seems as good a starting point as any to discuss fatherhood during COVID. I know my wife loves me, but for the first 20 years of our marriage, I spent at least 8-10 days per month traveling for business. Needless to say, while COVID has been a nice break on my body, my constant presence has certainly disrupted the rhythms of our household. I am messy. I am loud. I stick my nose in places where it doesn’t belong…such as shopping lists and my son’s high school assignments. Both my daughter and my wife have advised me to “get therapy” for obsessing over things I can’t control… like when the Italian restaurant forgets to include the garlic bread in our delivery order, or when I think my son received an undeserved “B” on an English essay that I helped him edit.
Even still, I wouldn’t give back a single day of the past year. After spending the first half of her college “gap year” in Hawaii, my daughter returned home in January 2021 to take an internship with the Mayor of Los Angeles. During these past 6 months, we have gone on countless walks, had dozens of conversations about her future in the world, and recounted fun family memories. Likewise, I have watched my son grow 7 inches, heard his voice change, and taught him how to shave. I’ve also attended every one of his baseball games.
Left to right: Micaela, Bruce and Cole
On June 14, I flew back to Miami for my first full week in the office since March 2020. The feeling was odd to say the least, but also a lot of fun. I enjoyed the minimalist plants that my Starner Group colleague, Daniel Chapman, placed around my office. I appreciated my daily lunch with Scott (and his beard) in a new way. I was delighted to see my father-in-law, Roger Starner, who has been like a father to me in so many ways since my own dad died nearly two decades ago. I smiled and sat up straight when Margaret told me to stop slouching. I even enjoyed the airline food on American Airlines!
As my life slowly begins to return to normal, I find myself oddly grateful at the gifts COVID gave to my family. I am heartbroken for those who lost their lives, but I am also heartened by American ingenuity. I was reminded of the amazing capacity for kindness that the human race can have when challenged. Speaking of kindness, one of my favorite treats during COVID was watching “Some Good News with John Krasinski” on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to watch a few episodes (only about 15 minutes each). Link to first episode here:
I promise that a single viewing will renew faith in the human race for even the most jaded of people!
In closing, I look forward to seeing all of you in the not-too-distant future. As always, I am only a phone call away for any and all financial planning questions….or even just to catch up!
Wow has a lot happened since I shared our pandemic experiences last July! I concluded my Musing last year by wondering what the next 3 – 4 months would bring. We were very pleasantly surprised as the 2nd half of last year brought news of 2 vaccines that are much more effective than most would have anticipated. The news of Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy of 95% on November 9th is an inflection point for humanity I will never forget.
On a personal note, the last 11 months have brought a return to some sense of normalcy. Last summer we discovered the joys of VRBO. My family and one other family rented a house for a week in Key Largo to get a change of scenery and relax a bit. Fortunately for us, our friends with whom we shared the house, brought their boat down and we spent most days out in the Atlantic Ocean swimming, snorkeling, eating and maybe enjoying a few adult beverages. We also rented 2 jet skis which my boys really enjoyed tooling around on the bay.
In August, Dylan returned to Ann Arbor for his junior year. While Melissa and I enjoyed having him home for an extended break, we were thrilled for him that he was able to return to school. Yes, classes were all remote, but at least he was able to live in a normal college environment, if you call 15 young men living in one giant house normal! Although he was forced to spend almost all of his time in his house, at least he had 14 instant friends around to spend time with. Amazingly, he made it through 8 months on a college campus without contracting the virus!
How to celebrate my 50th birthday in a pandemic? As the guys in Animal House famously said, Road Trip! Melissa and I cobbled together a last minute road trip in and around my 50th birthday in September. Much of the trip was focused on golf as Jesse had become addicted during our time in quarantine and golf was one of the safer activities we could enjoy. We visited three places we had never been before, Hammock Beach resort just south of St Augustine, Palmetto Bluff in out of the way South Carolina, about 45 minutes from Hilton Head and the Lodge at Eagle’s Nest in the mountains of northwest North Carolina near Beech Mountain. During our 2 week trip, Jesse and I played 3 rounds of golf together and I snuck in an additional 3 rounds while he was doing remote school. In North Carolina, we also rode ATVs around the mountain and Jesse and his buddy got to do some zip lining.
Not all was fun and games during the past year. In November, after a year or so of pain and limping around I had hip replacement surgery, my first surgery ever. I am happy to report the surgery was a success and after 3 months of physical therapy and exercise, I am just about back to normal. In fact, I was able to ski on my new hip in March. The marvels of modern medicine.
By far the best news of the past year came in late January when Jesse learned he was accepted to the University of Michigan, his dream school. In a few short months, Jesse will be joining his brother in Ann Arbor. You can only imagine how excited I am for Jesse to be the 6th member of our family to attend Michigan. In fact, my family wonders who is more excited, Jesse or me. A few weeks after he received his initial acceptance, we learned more great news as Jesse was also accepted to the Taubman School of Architecture within the University of Michigan. Now he will have the best of both worlds, his dream school and his dream area of study. If that wasn’t enough Jesse’s two best friends will be joining him in Ann Arbor this fall!
Things have started to return to normal somewhat. As I mentioned we took our first trip in a year in late March to Colorado for some spring skiing, another very safe pandemic activity. This was likely our last spring break ski trip with kids.
Dylan returned home from Ann Arbor and started his summer internship with a firm in New York City that represents sports broadcasters and other talent in the sports media world. He has started out remote, but is hoping to get up to New York at some point to spend some time working in the office and experience life in the City.
Jesse graduated high school last week and we had an in person sort of normal graduation ceremony. Melissa and I will officially be empty nesters in a few short months. We are looking forward to this next stage of our life adventure. One thing I know for sure is we will spend a few fall weekends in Ann Arbor attending football games in the Big House and of course visiting our boys. I have to make up for missing a season last year.
Left to right: Jesse, Scott, Dylan
As I wrap up, I want to also say it has been quite the past year on the work front. I have been back working in the office since last June, 4 days a week with Fridays at home, a tradition that started last summer when the boys wanted to play golf one Friday afternoon. Daniel joined me in the office several months ago 2 days a week and it has been nice to have someone else around. As things continue to improve, I look forward to once again seeing clients in person in the office. This will be a true sign things are back to normal.
Thanks, Bruce and Scott…and again, Happy Father’s Day!
Margaret C. Starner
Senior VP - Financial Planning
2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Suite 500
Coral Gables, FL 33134
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