Thursday, December 22, 2011

Once Upon a Christmas Birthday ...

 One memorable Christmas Evethe silly knit cap was from me and Sis bought Dad a toy helicopter--which I believe he has just launched (with a blow pipe) into the rafters.

December 22, 2011 (Earth time)

Dearest Dad;

Today is your birthday and though I realize time is no longer a concern for you, we still have to slog along down here by the calendar and the clock. So, when December 22 rolls around, I always think of you--well, I always think of you anyway, but on 12/22 I think of you more often.

In fact, I was thinking this morning about how you caught a bad break being born so close to Christmas. Your birthday always got short shrift, falling in the shadow, as it did, of Christ's arrival in Bethlehem. That's what we used to call "being Bigfooted" back in my news days. (No sacrilege intended.)

Funny thing about you--you never seemed to mind about your birthday. You never even seemed to care about your birthday! Once the War was over and you and Mom got the house and family rolling--I guess just about every day was a good day for you.

Remember the year Sis came home from her flight attendant training on Christmas Eve? We all dressed up in our best--the way people did in those days--and drove to SFO in the Olds to meet her UAL flight and bring her home.

We were four once more. Isn't her uniform cool? A helmet hat. And look! She's even wearing white gloves. Dad looks relaxed and very spiffy in the tweed suit and waistcoat.

Sis had finished college by then and I was soon to follow. It was the last year before the fledglings spread their wings and thus, one of our last together, as just the four of us.

I had not started my work in journalism, but I had a new Kodak Instamatic camera and it appears I thought I had--documenting the event as if I expected to file a report on it later. I guess this is later! That's me behind the camera: reporting on my pretty sister's return from glamorland.

Did Mom give Sis that cookbook? What I like best about this picture is the navy Samsonite suitcase--part of my sister's UAL kit. Hardsided! Weighed a ton! No wheels!

Dad, you seemed especially happy that night. Perhaps that's why I like to remember it.

Sis and me.

And then my mind zooms forward to the last Christmas/birthday we spent with you, on the eve of 2010. We knew how ill you were, but on your birthday--though you were quieter than usual--you did your best to be as present as you could be.

Sis and her family were there, too. Two of the granddaughters. We even got the neighbors to come and bring Sunny, your favorite neighborhood dog--an old dog just like you. She sure was glad to see you and the feeling was mutual.

Dad and Sunny. 

The only thing you said was: "I guess I know who planned all this." I still have no idea if that was a compliment.  Coming from a Scotsman, it was often hard to tell.

The brain is a great time traveler, isn't it? Even on that last Christmas/birthday I did not see you as others did--old and ill. The mind works like that with those we love. I saw you working in the yard, as Sis and I played. Your hair was black. I saw us together in the park that day when I was visiting and you were well and your hair was white and Mom took our picture and the red in my jacket matched the red in your shirt.

In Los Altos, 2004.

Dad, I still miss you. The promise of this Season softens our loss and so do passing days. The things you taught us remain: faith and integrity. And you walk beside us still--straight and true.


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