Vai's View: Here's hoping my next 'fiddy' years are as good as the first 50

Published: Friday, Aug. 31 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

I'm talking about those homes with small yards for $100,000 — three bedrooms, two baths, maybe 1,000 square feet. A place where we could have barbecues in the backyard with my grandkids, the next-door neighbors, no swimming pool but just enough room for a few picnic tables and a small vegetable garden. A little place for grandchildren sleepovers in such tight quarters that we move the furniture and sleep on the floor in sleeping bags under forts of our own making.

Like Mitt Romney, I'd give anything to break up another fight between my boys or to find my children sleeping on floor of our bedroom because they were watching a Disney movie on our TV. I long for my grandchildren to visit grandparents in a neighborhood of smaller homes, not a show place.

A friend with whom I shared my sentiment asked me, "But eventually, you'll outgrow such a small home as you will surely have more grandchildren," to which I responded, "Then we'll have the barbecues at their parents' place, which will surely be bigger to accommodate their growing families, but I'm keeping my retirement home small and manageable. My parents remained in their small home, and visiting them and sleeping on Tongan mats was among the most memorable things my well-traveled and privileged kids ever did. Why would I cheat my grandkids of that privilege?"

I'd like to be of greater service to my community, church and country. Given my experiences in public school, attending and struggling through a private university from my impoverished and immigrant background, I think I could offer a unique perspective and guidance on a school board.

My wife and I have always planned to serve our church together on a mission someday, as most Latter-day Saint couples do. I'm still literate and fluent in Tongan, so maybe they'll send us to Tonga. Or to South Dakota to work on the reservations as I did 30 years ago. Who knows? Maybe it happens in my 50s or 60s — we'll know when it's supposed to happen — but I expect we'll go multiple times.

A little more than a year ago, I met with Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew, at her request. She asked me to consider writing a book. There's no timetable, but she graciously offered to assign an editor to me should I choose to do so. I find the task daunting, though writing a weekly column is cathartic. I just haven't been motivated enough to undertake such a project, but that may also be in my future.

In the next 10 years, we expect more of our children to get married, which means they'll be more grandchildren. We are anxious and excited for that possibility. We pray they'll be selective, choose wisely in finding spouses, as I did and as LJ did with Kaylie, whom we love and adore.

I'm closing in on 20 years of employment with NBC Philadelphia. I've had two jobs in my adult life: playing football and talking football. My wife reminds me of that fact whenever I grumble about taking out the trash, scrubbing a toilet or mopping her kitchen.

I've had a charmed life. Fifty years worth.

Already looking forward to the next fiddy.

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