Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Birthday

My father is 75 years old today. That's not really conceivable to me. Last time I was around him regularly, he was a mean guy in his 40s whom I hated. But, how do you hate a 75-year-old, especially one who no longer has any power over you? That's kind of like the Russians insisting on continuing to punish Rudolf Hess 40 years after the fact.

Oh, but the Hess reference is being overly dramatic.

When I was little, I liked the way my dad's sweaty after-work T-shirts smelled. (My mother has since told me that I liked to sleep with them.)

When I was little and had been put to bed, I'd almost always call out later to my parents for a drink of water. If I had NOT wet the bed by that time, I'd call for my mother. If I HAD wet the bed, I'd call for my father, because he was always nicer about it.

I liked going swimming with my dad. I remember riding on his back as he dove.

I liked the two or three times we went to a bowling alley and played pinball.

I liked staying up late watching movies with my dad. We barely spoke, just watched, but it was peaceful.

When "Gone With the Wind" aired for the first time on television in 1976, my dad grumped about how he, and thus all of us, were not going to watch it. He finally "let" me and my mom watch it on the big color TV in the living room, and went off to watch football on the small black-and-white TV in my bedroom. During a commercial, I went to visit him in the back room: He had on "Gone With the Wind."

When Elvis died in August 1977, I remember my dad going off into the back bedroom to be by himself because he was sad. At 12, I was just starting to understand, and respect, sadness.

I was grateful on the eve of my high-school graduation when my dad told my mom to let me go out after.

Some time in the mid-80s, I, in a fit of college-girl romanticism, gave my dad a collection of Anne Sexton poems because I felt that he'd like them. He actually seemed to. I remember that there was a poem about Sexton's father being a travelling salesman that my father commented on and liked --- his own father had been a travelling salesman.

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