It’s my birthday today. If you read last year’s blog, then you know that sometimes it’s a bittersweet day for me.
For some reason, this year, I don’t feel that angst that I’ve felt in some years. Is it because I know that it’s pointless to Google my dad’s name nowadays, that there will be no new stories? Or is it just the general healing process, when it’s finally only the happy memories and the current joy in my life that more overshadow the sad ones?
My first gift to myself was to take the day off work. I do love my job and am so blessed that I landed in an exciting and healthy industry of big data and analytics. But there are days I get run ragged. So I slept in, enjoyed a coffee in bed with the cat, a book, and gifts from my husband and kids. Honestly, if you are a cat lover, this Ragdoll cat is true to his name. My family wonders where they stand in the pecking order relative to the cat, and my son of course gave me a birthday card begging to paint a dog into the mix. We shall see. For sure, this empty nest feels too empty for my liking. Can’t we get to the grand kids phase sooner?
My family has always gone to lengths to make my birthdays so special. I noted that my daughter must have mailed my card the very day she went back to college, because the mail is so friggin slow from Florida. There is the one year that they baked me the most decadent chocolate cake ever, a recipe from O Magazine. What a labor of love given my husband is an awesome chef but has an aversion to baking. Thank goodness he downsized this year with just the two of us home.
I can think back too to the slumber parties my father used to let me host in middle school–all those girls and a bachelor, rock ‘n roll DJ father then. He made the best pancakes for us in the morning, loaded with butter, of course. I remember the year we all sat at the breakfast bar and he told one of my friends, Claire, how good her hair smelled. We all giggled knowingly. Anyone remember the shampoo, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific?
In the year and a half now since my memoir published, I’ve heard from a range of people. Some never knew my father, never watched or listened to him on TV or radio. They could relate to my story from the shared scars that a difficult family upbringing leaves. Knowing that even a single person drew strength from my story makes sharing it worth while. I’ve also heard from people who were my father’s fans and friends. It hurts when I hear how some people are disappointed in him. Did anyone really expect him to be perfect? Perhaps that is often the case with people in the public eye, but it seems unfair to me. It’s helped me heal to hear from people who understood how equally generous and harsh he could be. Most say that their lives were better off for having known him.
I understand too that my family and some of my friends wish I would let him go. I get it. But I relate more to this view I heard recently in respect to our fallen veterans: they say a soldier dies twice – once when he dies and the second time when someone no longer says his name.
A New Year and a birthday is often a time for resolutions and goals. So here I sit, thinking it’s time to move on to the next story. It’s been bubbling away for several years now, only one chapter written. I have a title even! It’s fun. It’s warm hearted. And it’s about football. Ironic, right? But it’s inspired by my son and his friends- not my father. There is soooo much rich material to work with. I envision one of the mothers as a Tarot card reader. That will be fun to research. Now, if only I had more time to write! Let’s see what the year brings!