Yesterday was my dad’s [redacted]th birthday. Let’s just say it was a milestone. Heck, let’s say 35th and not think too much about the math.
As a kid, I thought it was awesome that my dad’s birthday was so close to Halloween. This synchronicity supplied us with a story that was, as I thought, proof of his utter invincibility: One time, as a kid, he was having a Halloween birthday party in his hometown of Billings, Montana. It was dark and he was eager to get more candy so he ran across the street to the next house without looking both ways. He got hit by a car…and survived. Heck, he wasn’t even badly hurt.
My five-year-old (heck, my fifteen-year-old) mind was amazed by this. Every “hit by a car” story I’d ever heard ended in disaster–a pet being run over, a bicyclist’s life cut short. That my dad, as a child no less, had come out on the other side of a car-swipe was evidence that he was not someone to mess with.
There have been some pretty clear wins in my father’s life. A scholarship to Stanford, rising to the top of the salesman heap at a textbook editing company, successive elections to Town Meeting and the School Committee and a twelve-year career in town politics. There have also been some clear wins in my brother’s and my life because of him. Getting to receive my high school diploma from my own father. Our house being the place to call on the eve of a potential snow day, because our friends knew the superintendent would let us know first. Rides anywhere in the state (or several states over) when we needed them–for plays, to buy our first cars, for headshots in NYC or sailing camp out of Gloucester. Terrible shaggy-dog jokes that made our friends groan but also grin.
We “get” each other, he and I, in a way that can be spooky. I’ve mentioned before that we’re not allowed to play Charades in the same game, whether or not we’re on the same team–we’ll set the same obscure clues or will guess what the other person is acting out within seconds. I’ve been known to think, “Dad, I need something from you,” only to have him come downstairs and ask if I need anything. We raced each other for NaNoWriMo once–his word count vastly outnumbered mine that year.
Daddy, thank you for reading every one of these blog posts and sending me emails after each of them. Thanks for hugs and nonsensical nicknames (“Fred” for Todd, something I won’t mention for me) and insisting on honking the horn to the full rhythm to “Shave and a haircut…two bits” when picking us up, even when we were already getting into the car. Thanks for always being so gracious in welcoming friends and guests to our home and the “Stratford Hotel.” Thanks for the years in which you mystified carpoolers by claiming that the radio was voice-activated only by your voice while secretly controlling dials from your steering wheel.
Thanks for being my Dad, and here’s to [redacted] more years, or more.
[Nickname also redacted]