Hey Dad, I’m off tomorrow night. Do you want to get dinner with Josie and me?

He was excited to see his son and daughter-in-law. They never were good at returning his calls and it had been several weeks since he’d talked to them. They met at the restaurant and covered all the regular topics from the weather and work to plans and and the news. The old man was enjoying the conversation and picked up the check when it came. After the server walked away with his cash, his son said, “You know dad, things have been difficult for us financially. Josie and I both have been working less lately, our offices just aren’t that busy. I was wondering if you’d spot us a few grand…”

His father was happy to write a check.

Months later, the old man got another call from his son. They hadn’t talked since that night, even though he’d called both of them, they were never good at returning his calls. “Dad, we’re going out on the boat this weekend, do you want to join us?”

He was ecstatic to see his son and daughter-in-law again. It felt like it had been so long. They met at the marina then launched out. They fished and wakeboarded in intervals for hours before they stopped to eat. The boat rocked on the small waves. They hid in the shadow of the canyon walls that held the reservoir. They told him about their trip to Mexico and how much fun they had. The old man was glad that his son was enjoying life. After stories of adventures and promises to show him photographs, Josie’s face got serious and she nudged her husband. It was time to leave. On the way back, he started explaining to his father how they had been saving for a bigger house. They were thinking about having children, but their home was too small. “Dad, do you think you could help us with the down-payment, so we could afford the mortgage each month? I would like to put fifty down but we’ll only have half that when we sell…”

The old man was happy to write a check.

His son and daughter-in-law couldn’t find a house they wanted, so they had one built. They had kids and put them in private school. The old man visited with his growing family two or three times a year and knew that every time he saw Mike and Josie, they’d ask for money. Sometimes, it felt as if he had to pay to see them but he loved all of them so much. He put money into trust funds for all the kids, bought them cars when they were old enough to drive. Sometimes, he felt used, but that was only in the months when he didn’t hear from his son. They never were good at returning his calls. The old man was faithful to be there, even when his children weren’t. He was always there when they needed him. All they had to do was call.