Today is my dad’s birthday. I said that to someone who hasn’t known me for long and she brightened, “Oh? How old is he?”
“Well,” I paused and closed my eyes, “he died five years ago, but he would have been 70 today.”
Later, I thought about whether or not I should have phrased things differently. Maybe it’s not his birthday anymore. But it is. My entire life, Dad’s birthday was on October 11. It still is his birthday. To me, it always will be. And as the child who was always vying for his attention and praise, I reveled in sharing a birthday month with my Poppy. Like it was some special, exclusive club we belonged to and our privileges couldn’t be revoked. I mean, you can’t change your birthday, right?
Last week I started thinking about how the UN has declared October 11 “Day of the Girl.” Wondered what that means cosmically – that my dad, who was a macho, manly-man of the first order shared his birthday with such a designation. And while I remember him being a chauvinist, it is tempered with the knowledge that he was a product of his generation and upbringing. While he resisted my efforts to do ‘boy’ things like play soccer, he ultimately came around and taught me how to wax a car and change the oil, he supported my desire to go to medical school and married more than one bra-burning feminist (not my mother). By the time I was a mother, he was firmly in the camp that believed that my girls could accomplish anything and ought to be afforded the opportunity to try.
And then, just fifteen minutes ago as I filled out a fax cover sheet (who requires fax communication anymore, people? Honestly, let’s just go to email, can we?) I realized that the full date today is 10/11/12. To me, the numbers speak of a moving forward, an inexorable march of progress.
I know that these are completely random observations, but I can’t help feeling that there is some congruence, some magic about today. Maybe it’s my way of conjuring up my dad once again and finding ways to honor him and his growth curve. He truly went from being one of the most rigid, wounded souls I have ever known to a loving acceptance of himself and the people in his life in the span of the 35 years I knew him.
Happy birthday, Poppy.