My Dad is 80 years young on June 11. The last time we had an all-family celebration for his birthday was when he turned 60. At that birthday celebration, my brother gave him a t-shirt that said, “60’s not old when you’re a tree.” That seemed o-l-d then, but now that I’m pushing 60, it doesn’t seem o-l-d at all. Dad is making 80 look very doable!
I always say that birthdays are reminders that each of us is a unique, unrepeatable, miracle of God. Much gets made of God breaking the mold when we are created. Our DNA may link us to our ancestors who have gone before us, but our personalities and what we do with our life in the midst of an incredible number of variables, is all that we have when all is said and done. Unique. Unrepeatable. Miracle.
Saint Sam and I moving back to California after my brother’s death has given us more time together as a family. My brother’s death was the awful reminder that life is both short and precious. It is a reminder that our relationships are important and it is our responsibility to preserve and protect them by actively attending to them. We don’t all live in close proximity, but not more than six weeks goes by without some configuration of us getting together. Birthdays and special days give us the incentive, although we don’t have to have an official reason to gather.
Every family has their own stories that get told and retold over the course of get-togethers. As my Dad has aged, he has begun telling stories that none of us have heard before. These snippets and impressions and events are part of a rich, textured, diverse tapestry of his life. Threads of his life and work, when woven together with the threads of others’ lives and work became a day, like all days, filled with the events that make history. Literally.
My Dad may be turing 80, but he’s in excellent health. He is the only one left from his brothers. My parents are among the age where memorial services of neighbors and colleagues are regular and frequent. He still rotor tills the orchard on their half-acre, collects and chops wood from felled trees in the neighborhood, and works out calculus problems in his head while walking on the treadmill every morning.
My Dad is turning 80 and we will celebrate. He’s asked for meatloaf (!), corn on the cob, and salad for dinner with Boston Cream Pie (with extra custard and chocolate frosting, of course) for dessert. His great-granddaughters may have to help blow out 80 candles, although he’s probably in great shape with all that wood he’s chopped and thousands of miles he’s put on his treadmill (he’s on his second motor). I can’t wait to hear the stories he’ll have for us this time. I know we will be laughing. He will definitely be holding court.
Happy Birthday and lots of love, Dad. Carry on!