Last week I phoned my mother to see how things were going and she reported that my father was up on a ladder, shoveling snow off the roof.
Which is a dicey thing for anybody to do, but at the time my father was a few days shy of his 90th birthday, and I was here in England, 3600 miles away. No way for me to stop him.
It was a trifecta of broken rules for the so-called elderly: Don't climb ladders, don't shovel snow, avoid slippery surfaces.
The only way to make the task more dangerous would have been to blindfold him.
"Mom," I gasped, "you've got to get him down from there!"
She sighed. "Have you met your father?...Ooh, wait, it's okay, I see his feet coming down the ladder!!"
Mission accomplished. Tony Carillo cleared the roof and reached the milestone birthday.
It would be an understatement to say he did it his way.
A man who hits 90 is like an athlete who lasts a long time. You can't help but rack up some impressive stats.
My father worked for the same company for 48 years. He's lived in the same house for 59 years, and he's been married to the same woman for 62 years.
Numbers like those might indicate a guy who's been roped and tied by innumerable responsibilities, but that's the funny thing.
Because no matter what my father is doing - including roof-shoveling - he's glad to be doing it. As if nobody ever told him what to do or where to go.
That's what I marvel at. His whole life has been his idea.
It's a pretty neat trick. I've never known anybody quite so free. No wonder he looks good.
Happy 90th, Dad. Got a feeling this might not be your last birthday that ends in a zero.
But please, stay off the damn roof.