02/05/2015 06:25 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Bucket Stops Here


Not long ago I was helping my father with a job at his house, and a five gallon bucket of water had to be carried outside.

I grabbed the handle to hoist the bucket, and my father - age 88, going on 16 - tried to take it from me.

"Let me," he insisted. "It's heavy."

He wanted to spare his little boy from the strain. After all, I'm still just a toddler at age 59.

So we struggled over the bucket, a white-haired guy and his gray-haired son both tugging on the handle as water splashed on the kitchen floor. It was a delightfully ridiculous situation.

"Dad," I finally said, "Let me carry it! You're 88 years old!"

He released the handle and looked at me in wonder, as if I'd just delivered breaking news.

"I am?" he asked.

He reacted pretty much the same way while celebrating his anniversary with my mother last week, and she told him they'd been married sixty-one years.

"Sixty-one?" he marveled.

That's one of my favorite things about Tony Carillo. He ignores the calendar, and maintains a boyish state of mind.

My Dad still plays tennis, climbs ladders and cuts his lawn with a push-mower. If I had to define his ethnic background, I'd say he's Italian-Amish. He scoffs at most power tools and is always the last guy in the neighborhood to notice when there's a blackout.

He would never make a list of rules to live by, but if he did, it would look something like this:

1) Fix it, don't get a new one.

2) Don't waste anything.

3) If you fill your birdbath with water, keep filling it throughout the warm months. The birds come to rely on it.

4) If you're not sure you need it, you don't need it.

5) One glass of wine is plenty.

6) Eat slowly.

7) Walk wherever you're going, whenever possible.

8) Drink the water you use to cook vegetables. Where do you think the vitamins go?

19) While you're awake, stay in motion.

10) Don't worry about things you can't change.

Some list, huh? No wonder he had the strength to fight me for that bucket.

By the way, Dad, if you happen to pass a calendar, check the date - you're 89 years old today.

I wish you a happy birthday, and I've got a special wish for myself, if ever I reach your age:

To go head-to-head with my son over the right to carry a five gallon bucket of water.

That's at the top of my bucket list.

Charlie Carillo is a novelist and a producer for the TV show "Inside Editiion." His website is