He Gave His Father “The Talk”

Sometimes the line written for a laugh rings true as a bell.

The most recent Dos Equis beer ad ends with, “he gave his father ‘the talk.’” I heard the line and chuckled.

A few hours later, my children gave me “the talk.”

We were on our annual family vacation in San Diego last week – the whole mishpacha (family) in adjoining condos, eating, playing, needling, sharing the vibe. My grandchildren had puzzles and projects everywhere. The beautiful disarray of a family that loves being together – at least in small doses – filled the space with joyful chaos. Earlier in the day we watched the Chicago Bulls win an incredible triple-overtime playoff thriller. My granddaughter Chava, who is five years old and doesn’t even know who Michael Jordan is, was so attracted to the wild raucous cheering she can’t wait for the next game, which she thinks will be like the last crazy one. But it won’t be, because we will not be together to go nuts, even if the Bulls make up a 14-point deficit in two minutes again like they did on Saturday.

“The talk” used to be when a dad told his son the “facts of life.” But when we get older, if we are blessed to be part of a caring family, the children may turn the tables to give the parents their version of “the talk.”

Like the father wants to help his son navigate the world of dating and sex, the adult child wants a reluctant parent to “man up” as he faces the challenges of age, pain, and physical decline.

My kids have endured a lot of hours in hospital waiting rooms hoping I will emerge. They have seen my sight decline and lately watched my arthritic and tendonitised knees rob me of my bounce. Children want you to stay the same Dad you were when they were kids. Maybe some fathers wish their kids always stayed “kids” too.

I take joy in the love and caring of my family and also wish they would just give me some space to work out my stuff my own way. They may think they know what’s going on in my head and my body, but how can they? Did I know how they really felt when they were teenagers?

My children believe in self-improvement, even perfectibility, and I guess Risa and I have trained them well in that area. They believe in a better diet, the power of therapies, the next knee surgery. I’m more into extra-strength Advils and putting one foot in front of the other.

The generations of Graffs love one another, and for that I am hugely grateful. But as much as we try, it’s hard to be in each other’s heads.

Questions: Have your children ever given you “the talk”?

If you have had a knee replacement, would you recommend the surgery to somebody else?

A video of the Dos Equis ad “The Talk”

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10 thoughts on “He Gave His Father “The Talk”

  1. Ted Roberts

    I’ve had both my hips replaced and I would recommend that. I have friends that were skiing and golfing months after knee replacments so I would recommend that too. Of course there is always the chance that you can have a bad outcome like any medical proceedure.

  2. allen gibbs

    My father had one in his late 70’s,he also was a bypass survivor at 65.After single knee replacement surgery his regular doctor ordered a potassium IV because level was low and that resulted in near congestive heart failure due to fluid build up.They had to transfer him,knee apparatus and all to heart ward.A loss of hearing resulted also.Needless to say he never had the 2nd.replacement.Make sure if you do that your Cardiologist calls the shots on fluids,etc.I would limp and bear if still an option,to risky.

  3. Joe

    Lloyd, I am from your kids generation.
    I would like to give my dad “the talk” every day, but I can’t, he passed away a year ago.
    Please keep listening because there will be a time we won’t be able to give you “the talk”.
    Your kids will miss you more than you realize.

  4. Peter @ Polygon

    I had arthroscopic knee surgery 10 years ago to clean out a cavity in my femur. I had given up playing basketball for a year, and was getting less and less active. The last 10 years I have been able to play basketball, soccer etc. because of the surgery. I’m very grateful to my boss Gary who pressured me to see his doctor and ask about the surgery. I may have been trying to man-up too early and tough it out. Good thing I didn’t. It was totally worth it.

  5. Dean

    Hi Lloyd!
    I want to first say that I enjoy your columun very much! Not only the business lessons but also the more personal messages.

    Full disclosure – I have worked at a major orthopedic manufacturer for the last 22 years. I get a lot of questions from family and friend about the right time to get a given orthopedic implant. My answer is – “If you find yourself not doing the things you enjoy because your knee/hip hurts, then it’s time.”

    The obvious benefits will be a painfree knee/hip but the less obvious is the overall benefit to your entire body. The better your knee feels, the more active you will be. The more active you are, the less weight you will gain. You can see where I’m going with this.

    As with every surgery, there are risks of course. Find a recommended surgeon/hospital that does a large number of joint replacements and you won’t be sorry you did it.

  6. Emily Halgrimson

    I feel differently than Joe, although I haven’t lost a parent yet (or even a grandparent), so who knows how I’ll feel after I experience that.

    But I have watched my family struggle with trying to get my grandparents to change their eating and exercise habits for years, decades really, and I wish that all that time spent in frustration and in criticism had been spent more wisely. It has caused strain and unhappiness on both their parts.

    Everyone has weaknesses, and I think pointing them out time after time and year after year can be just as unhealthy for our psyche and relationships as the bad habit is for our body.

    One of my loved ones is a closet smoker, and I know it, but I never bring it up. I know that every time he lights up he’s already chastising himself and feels horrible, and he’s doing the best he can to quit. I want to enjoy the time I have with him and be a loving supportive influence in his life, not ruin it by giving him a guilt trip and putting him on the defense with me.

    Motivation to make lasting change rarely comes from the outside anyway.

  7. Dave

    I have a father-in-law that we have given the talk to numerous times. He will be 90 in the next month, has had no replacements of joints, or any other major health issues. He cannot hardly walk, has had macular degeneration now in the 2nd eye, but still drives. We worry about his ability to stop the car in a panic situation, or see all that he needs to. The eye doctor told him last week “ya, go ahead and take that driving test next month”. We were hoping for better support from him, something like “time to stop driving”. I guess he didn’t want to be the bad guy either. He has 2 sons, and a daughter, as well as their spouses that verbally committed to be at his beckon call to take him anywhere at any time. But he won’t hear of it. My father-in-law has been very vocal about not wanting assisted living (we have taken him to look, showed him how the finances would work out) and nursing homes. We just keep getting told (by him) how sharp his mind is and how he can live cheaper in his house. If he dies in his own home because he had a fire in the kitchen (again), he didn’t hurt anyone and died happy. But if he has an accident with the car, it carries the likelihood that he could potentially hurt someone. The “talk” isn’t working.

  8. John "Jack" Frost

    Lloyd, What a nice question. I can,t remember if the children had a talk with me, mainly because Annette and I were married 67 years. We were too much in love to need advice, but yes, in time I gave up with their help, the habits that might impair my health. For a good part of my adult life I had to be physically fit, even after aircraft crashes, field mishaps and other dangerous activity. Now my drivers license is good until 2018. I really think the DMV was overly optimistic. With the advances in medical technology, I would recommend any procedure that improves life and health. I believe that one should be sure that the procedure is required and that it is suitable for that individual. Lloyd, I wish you good health and a long and good life with your caring family. BTW, right now I am 92.

  9. Ken Smith

    I had my left knee replaced 2 years ago. Even considering the pain after surgery, controlled with meds, When my right knee is in as bad a condition as my left was I would have replacement surgery in a heartbeat. I was back at work in a limited capacity 4 weeks after surgery, had therapy for 4 to 6 weeks longer. Is the knee 100%? No. There is no pain from the knee joint but sometimes with the weather there is some stiffness and aching. I would recommend to anyone with severe knee pain.

  10. Donna

    Lloyd, I haven’t had my knee replaced but I have had my hip replaced twice and knowing the pain I was in before surgery, I would recommend it. I was doing less of the activities that I loved (aerobics, college badminton classes, etc.) because of the pain. Even walking became a chore. My 2 daughters gave me ‘the talk’ when I said I thought I could continue on with the pain another year or so (trying to put it off as long as I could) and they asked me why would I want to stay in pain even longer than the 4+ years I had already suffered? They both encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and get it over with. I was back to work 4 weeks later and starting to drive again at 5 weeks. It was a good decision and I was able to do the things I loved again to stay active.

    My aunt (96 now) had her knee replaced at the age of 93, 3 months before her 94th birthday. She really waited too long to have it done. She was bone and bone and had a difficult time just watering her plants. She had been putting it off since she was in her 70’s when it would have been an easier recovery. We weren’t even sure her insurance would approve it, but they did and with a letter from her doctor regarding her present health, she had the surgery. The first month was painful and hard on her, but after that she told me she is very happy she had it done and should have done it sooner. She is still driving and leads an active life.

    If your health is good and your doctor advises you it is OK, then make sure you have a good Orthopedist and go for it. There is always a risk, but everything in life has risks and sometimes we just need to take it.


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