Sunday, December 18, 2011

Birthdays and Smiles

Today would have been my father's 90th birthday. And as I write this I am thinking of him and smiling. Because that is what my father would have wanted. He liked to make people laugh. Frowns were not allowed in his presence and if you dared to offer one, he would do his best to figure out a way to make it go away.

Yet even as I smile, it is hard to fight off the tears. One would think 25 years after someone has died the tears would have run out. There would be no more to cry. But there always seems to be one more, hidden away, just waiting for it's moment to appear.

His birthday is hardly the only time I think of him. He intersects my thoughts at some point, if only for a minute, every day. And while his physical form has passed, I still feel his presence.

Like last week when I was putting the lights on the tree. I tested the two sets and they both worked. Yet somehow, once up, only one was working. My mother gave me an extra set she had, which I added on, never taking down the broken one. And suddenly, as if by a miracle, when  all three were in place, that middle set started working. I felt him right then and there, his big smile, hearty laugh and mischievous nature, letting me know he didn't think there were enough lights to start out with and this was his way of interceding.

I wonder sometimes what he would look like now, if he had been given the gift my mother has, of getting to live a long and healthy life. Would he have kept his sense of humor through it all or would he have become a curmudgeonly old man watching Fox News all day and getting angry? Would he be proud I have become a writer and published author or would he have fallen into that camp of people who think I am crazy to try something new at this point in my life?

The world has changed so much since he left it. And as people we change too. But the one thing I am sure he never would have forsaken was his big smile, his hearty laugh, and the way he would fill a room with his energy when he walked in.

Dad in 1964 with the only two things he loved more than his family, cigarettes and a beer.
I'm not sure where he was, but being the Brooklyn boy he was,
I'll guess Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay.



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