Today is my dad’s birthday. If he were still with us, Dad would be 100 years old today.
Maybe he’d get his mug on a Smuckers jar as one of Willard Scott’s birthday boys. That would have been fun…for me, anyway. “Hey, Dad, look–you made the Geezer list!”
Oh, wait a minute. I’d better shut up. I’m now a geezer myself.
Had he not retired, I believe Dad would still be alive today. Before his retirement, he was always physically active–and as a result, healthy. After he retired, he gained a lot of weight and drank heavily for almost ten years. He was, surprisingly, not an alcoholic. When he decided to stop, he just stopped. It was that simple. Same with smoking. He was very young (nine, I think) when he started smoking. He stopped when he was in his sixties…and never lit up again. Mom didn’t make it easy for him. Unlike Dad, Mom had no willpower. They’d agreed to stop smoking at the same time. Dad stopped; Mom became a closet smoker.
I remember the day he caught her smoking in the bathroom. He went outside to the bathroom window and tapped on the glass. “Either you’re smoking, or the bathroom’s on fire,” he called out to her. “Should I call the fire department?”
He and I frequently butted heads. Mom said that was because we were too much alike. It took him longer than it should have to know when I was ignoring him. I had a friend he actively disliked (to be fair, his reasons were valid–but it was still my choice to make). One night, she and I were going out drinking (told you his reasons were valid). As I got into her car, he came to the front door and yelled, “If you go, don’t come back!”
Shirley was more concerned about that than I was. “He’s really mad. Maybe you shouldn’t go.”
I shrugged it off. “He’ll still be mad when I get back,” I told her.
He was. I think we argued for almost a week.
He was 77 when he passed away on January 29, 1991. He wasn’t perfect by any means–there are things for which I’ve forgiven him but never forgot, and I’m sure he could say the same about me. But I still love him. I still miss him and Mom. I still find myself, after all these years, wanting to tell them things, wishing they were here for the high points, needing them during the lows.
Happy Birthday, Dad….