It is never clear-cut.
I posted a picture of grandpa and grandson reading together a book about Pearl Harbor.
Dad, at over 91.5 years old, was absolutely present and enthralled in the activity with his grandson. Still, my dad forgot my birthday. It is fine (I would like to forget them) except Dad has NEVER forgotten his kid’s birthday. It has never happened. I joked with him on my 46th birthday that is was the 30th anniversary of the same present — $100. Then, in 1980, $100 meant something.
Dad was at my office on Friday to talk finances and long-term planning. I am still holding out for 120 years, like Moses. Tonight, I floated 125. I cannot lose my father even if he makes me crazy(ier). On Friday, I mentioned that I told SOB not to come to Sunday night dinner because she needed to study for her medical re-certification boards. But she was sending HOSOB with a birthday cake. “Whose birthday?
“Mine, Dad, well sort of. A few days early.”
I saw a crestfallen look. He had not remembered to send a birthday card with the $100. As gifts go, the $100 is, well, sand on a beach. It is the card, on which every year he writes: “[Blogger] darling, happy birthday. May all your wishes come true. I love you. Dad” that makes it special. He says that every year, with some slight variation, so that it is not rote. I know it is never rote. Two things I know I can count on in this world are Dad’s love and that the power of Dad’s love can provide. When I was in my 20s and in trouble, Dad was there. Wherever “there” was, Dad would go there with me. His steadfastness made me strong. It made me know that I would go wherever “there” was with my children. Because that is what you do.
Dad was sheepish tonight because he was unable to coordinate getting a card and mailing it on time, but he did produce the check, in an envelope that said, “My darling [Blogger], Happy birthday. I love you, Dad.” At dinner, I reminded everyone of his heroic rescue of me in the dark days of my 20s. I wanted to say, “although this is a man who depends on me now, he was a giant and a protector of his children. Mess with him at your peril.”
The tide has turned. My siblings and I are in charge. Dad may be fading but his lessons in parenting and courage live on. And I am crying uncontrollably as I write this.