Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 03/22/2010

Happy Birthday, Dad

March 22, 2010.  Today is my dad’s 83rd birthday.

The man who turned me upside down, dangling me by my feet, when I was choking on a red lifesaver

Who worked two jobs to get me through college — and never even once complained

Who wrote me letters while I was away at school, newsy letters and most of them were pretty much the same, but between the lines they said, “I miss you, kiddo” without him actually having to say the words.  He didn’t have to.  I knew.

Who walked with me up an aisle when I got married, and down an aisle when he carried my mom’s ashes after her funeral, holding on to her one last time.  I looked at his tear-stained face, and saw that he was more stooped, more feeble than the last time I’d seen him.  We needed no words.  There were no words.  He would be living alone for the first time in 55 years.  It was the only time I have seen my dad cry.

Who always called me “Smiley”, and said, each and every single New Year’s Eve as he headed off to bed way before midnight, “Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you until next year.”

Who ate applesauce sandwiches.

Who, when someone honked the horn at him, would say, “Okay, buddy, the horn works, now try the lights.”  Or when he was frustrated the way someone was driving he would say, “Where’d you get your license, Sears???”

Who loved the sea….who took me out on a boat in the Harlem River and as he stood on the dock and I was in the boat drifting away, he lunged into the boat, hitting his shin against the side loud enough to be heard.  The bruises lasted for months. We were buddies, he and I.  We’d pack ham sandwiches and Lay’s Potato Chips and spend the afternoon together

Who had little bits of toilet paper stuck to his face as he drank his morning coffee, from the damage his razor did

Who loved to reminisce….and he’d begin with, “No…..I remember the time…..Patti, do you remember the time…..what….. it had to be when you were (insert age)..”  Of course, we all remembered the story, yet it was something he wanted to share yet again, with all those present.  It was if by saying it aloud, and sharing it with others, that memory became that much more pleasurable to him.

And now….now I smile at old men in their eighties, hoping that someone will do the same for him.  And if they are driving in front of me going fifteen miles under the speed limit, it’s okay. I hope that whoever happens to be driving behind my dad doing exactly that, will do as I do….nothing.  Not veer around him, nor honk the horn behind him, nor compromise his dignity….


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