father's day and home buliders
James E. McManus, MD, at his 90th birthday in February.

Father's Day is Sunday. My dad, 90, remains a big proponent of never retiring, and only reluctantly did so at age 87. Still, this past October, he sat in a chain hotel ballroom to re-certify as a medical archivist, which he likes to keep current on his resume "in case" he needs to look for work.

He'd practiced surgery from the time he turned 25 or so in 1950, until the mid-1980s, and from the time he turned 63 until his mid-80s, he held full-time jobs related to the medical field. His interests are expansive and have always been so--Churchill, the Civil War, Bach, politics, oceanography, United Nations postage stamp collecting, jazz, any sport, but especially baseball, tennis, golf, professional football and basketball, religion, and lawn mowers (or why they don't work) are all keen passions--but only last week I learned of another of his interests, architecture.

He knows that my current livelihood centers on something to do with architects and architecture, and he told me recently, "I've always been interested in it, and always kind of felt that I could be an architect."

Hearing my surprise at this revelation, he explained, "I always had the feeling I could recognize ahead of time trends in what people would want in their homes."

So, I asked him what he felt people would want in their homes in the future, a few years from now, and he said that he would build homes that had showers and electric systems that would shut off automatically after a certain limited time so that people would not be wasting water or electricity.

It tells you something about wisdom of the ages, and about innovation, and about human behavior and psychology, that someone who's 90 years old would suggest that technology and automation might be put to work as means of self-restraint and, even, sacrifice, so that the world's precious resources--water and energy--might be conserved.

Sage thoughts aside, one of the striking things about my father is that he has outlived probably anybody in his genetic line, and while his view of retirement is attitudinal and possibly generational, his longevity may or may not have anything to do with his will to keep on working well beyond the years his financial means required. What this implies with respect to the home building and development segment we currently call active adult, I don't exactly know. Given that some people will hit their mid-60s, early 70s, and even 80s, and still elect to or need to work, will certainly mean that new-home communities and neighborhoods for aging Americans will continue to evolve rapidly in design, function, and location.

Some of us love to work, and some of us are so passionate about our livelihoods that the way we make a living hardly feels like work at all. It just feels like living.

This is the sense I get when I talk with people who build homes for a living. Many don't feel that it's a job. More people in the field seem to feel that being part of a business that, like no other, puts people in a home, very often by putting that home within their reach.

Happy Fathers Day! A moment to celebrate is well-deserved.