Happy 87th birthday, Dad. Twenty-three years. For a memory-challenged person such as me, I can remember so clearly every detail from the phone call, the wax dummy that lay in your coffin, visitations, funeral, burial, picking up the pieces for mom. Three weeks later I headed home in a world that was lesser.
I miss over twenty years of graveyard conversations; taking care of the bonsai rhododendron and azalea next to your headstone. Despite the problems, I took care of mom. I was sure you wanted me to.
Four years ago, we put mom next to you. Her spirit died the day you did. I believe she is truly at rest, back to my original mother again.
Of all the crazy things you said or warped ideas you came up with, I decided my favourite: your offer to buy me a ONE-WAY ticket to anywhere in the world I wanted to go. I wonder what you’ve done if I took you up on the offer, asked you to fly me to some place 1/2 way round the globe, like Patagonia or New Zealand?
So, happy birthday. And, no, we will not toast you with a glass of Mateus! A glass of white and red wine but not the Christmas-birthday-Easter-Thanksgiving-Anniversary-World Series-Stanley Cup-First-Lawn-Mowing-Big-Pick-Up-Garbage-Day-whatever-reason-you-could-come-up-with that a bottle of Mateus was needed with supper. Thank goodness, from my perspective, that it was a sorta rosé, close enough to red that I had an excuse to open a bottle of white!
It’s probably no coincidence that when you count back 9 months from November you get to February and Valentine’s Day.
A shout out the friends and family that were November babies: Nov. 2: my father’s father Nov. 4: Annette November 5: hubby November 6: my mother’s father; me November 12: David November 22: Sarah
I share the date not only with my grandfather, but also with Maria Shriver, Sally Field, Glen Frey (Eagles), Ethan Hawke and Emma Stone (according to today’s newspaper). Then there’s John Philip Sousa, James Naismith, lots of musicians in bands I don’t know, some important events and deaths, national holidays (flag day) in Finland and Sweden.
Anybody you’d like to add to the list? Famous or unknown; past or present; family and/or friends; special events; and the list goes on!
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Two years ago, we wished my mother happy birthday as she slipped in and out of consciousness. Next to her bed so she could see it should she awake, I put a large helium balloon tied onto a yellow ribbon. A transparent “window” gave a view into a springtime garden. With a backdrop of greens, pinks, yellows, and violets an April garden might hold, a banner displaying the words “happy birthday” in calligraphic script stretched across the blue of the sky, held at each end by a butterfly. For many years, she had worn a necklace of tiny gold links; at the center of the chain, a delicate lacy butterfly was suspended.
On a grey, blustered day last year, I put another balloon next to my mother in hono(u)r of her birthday; placed by her gravestone rather than at the head of a hospital bed.
Among the grey of granite and marble with clouds hanging low, with the air filled with chill and sorrow, the balloon, dancing with the wind, was a bright spot of colo(u)r.
Today she would have been 84; I wore her necklace and filigreed butterfly earrings as I had on the day we laid her to rest next to my father.
Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of her death; I will buy a brightly colo(u)red helium balloon tied to a yellow ribbon. In the park, I will let go of the string that binds the balloon to me, to the earth. I will watch it sail upwards, dancing on the wind, until it is a tiny speck of colo(u)r against the backdrop of the sky.