We sat down to the table and shared a giant lasagna with all the trimmings and laughed and laughed and laughed! Then almost immediately after dinner Dad sliced his birthday cake, a butter pecan layer cake with browned-butter cream cheese frosting.
Please note Dad's strategically placed napkin-bib.
He thought perhaps the cake was all for him?
We sang to him and asked if he feels any older. He answered in the affirmative. We spent what little weeknight time we had left watching hilarious videos and laughing some more. Being with my family and laughing is on my sparkly list of favorite things to do. Seriously, it feels so good. And I love to see my parents happy and worry-free for a few minutes. They deserve so much more of that.
My sweet Momma and my Baby Brutha from exactly the same Mutha, Phil.
The older I get the more I am keenly aware of what a gift it is to have both of my parents alive and in my life, loving me and spending time with me. Handsome's parents are very much a part of our life, too, and we are so grateful for this. Looking around at our friends, I see more and more people who have lost one or both of their parents by now, so these family events are golden to me. Big holiday occasions are also fabulous, but my soul is nourished by regular doses of easy get-togethers and homemade food.
Koston, 10, eternally dorky me, and Dante, 15.
I cannot even tell you how much I love these guys.
To finish his birthday celebration, I would like to tell you a little bit about my Dad, about why I wish you could have a Dad like mine...
He played with us all the time growing up, and he helped entertain my friends when I had birthday parties. In fact, as my friends got to be of the "crush having" age, lots of them had crushes on my Dad. This is actually rude, ladies, and weird, but it is nice to have a Dad everyone likes.
Along this vein, Dad was my first teacher of practical jokes. Pranks. Pretty big ones. I'll just leave that at that.
He has taught me a thousand or maybe a million things just by example. His style has always been showing, not telling, and I bet he has no idea how impactful that has been over the years.
Dad's work ethic is incredible. He doesn't stop when he reaches an obstacle; nor does he lose his patience when frustrated; he just works and adapts and continues working until something is done.
Also? He literally* whistles while he works. No lie. But he's not a very good whistler, but still.
Dad has always made me feel like he had a special love for me, and he always seemed to go above and beyond to take care of me, personally. I grew up thinking it was because I am the oldest, maybe because he was so young when I was born, or perhaps simply because of my daughterly awesomeness (not). But in comparing notes with my adult siblings I realize we all have felt loved like this. Without ever once saying the word favorite, Dad and Mom made us all feel that way. And you know what? I am not disappointed in the truth. Not one bit. Watching both of our parents love my siblings through thick and thin, whatever the circumstances or special events, has been one of the most eye opening learning experiences of my life. Way better than continuing to believe I'm their fave.
Anyway, it is likely that his heart belongs more to the grand kids now...
My Dad in his first months as a Grandpa,
pictured here with my first baby.
To my knowledge, Dad has never missed a grandchild's birthday party (locally, and I am sure missing his California grandson's candles has hurt). Here he is at my youngest's 13th birthday party a few years ago. Dad had just shattered his leg terribly and was probably in a lot of pain, but he came to the farm anyway. We delighted in teasing him about his walker, and against his wishes we decorated it. Well, I mean, the kids did. I had nothing to do with it whatsoever.
One lesson I wish I had learned from Dad a lot earlier in life is humility. He exemplifies it and proves it in his life year after year, and it breaks my heart for him.
Dad is an excellent cook, and I wish I could find a photo of him wearing his chef's apron and hat.
Do you know what the invisible ball/ paper bag trick is? Pretty sure my Dad invented it, and if you visit the farm I'll teach it to you. It's amazing. Maybe I can get him to do it on video and upload it some day.
But I do not wish upon you the horror of a knee-grabber. This is serious business, folks.
My Dad is a Power Napper, and he has been known to watch entire television shows through his eyelids. Then he looks at you like you're crazy if you call attention to his sleepiness.
Also, he is the fastest walking person on the face of this earth. It is because of growing up around him that I am physically unable to take a leisurely stroll anywhere.
I don't know whether Dad is more talented at tile work or carpentry, because he does beautiful work in both areas. But I can say that the fragrance of fresh sawdust makes me very, very happy. It brings me back to childhood in a split second, and I love that.
I have reached the age where I am thrilled by my parents' love and romance, instead of being weirded out by it. Seeing them live their marriage in front of us kids, prop each other up, whisper compliments behind each other's back... I love every bit of it. Can't get enough of it now. Seeing how much my Dad loves my Mom, and vice-versa, is such a wonderful gift, and I am deeply thankful for it.
Among the many things Dad has taught me by example is a love of reading. We only have a slice of overlap in genre appreciation, as far as I know, but I grew up watching him recline in a bustling living room with either a newspaper or a paperback perched studiously in front of him. To me this is relaxation. And I love Dad for teaching it to me.
No matter what the need, no matter how last minute or inconvenient the request, my Dad will help any of kids in any way that is humanly possible. Same goes for his friends too, I am sure. We probably never know when we put him in a bind, because he is always the same. He always acts with a steadiness that offers us calm. We know he is always there, no matter what.
I could write and write my love for my Dad, and he deserves it, but by now he is probably rolling his eyes at me a little and feeling itchy to get back to work. So go ahead and go walk fast and get something accomplished, Dad!!! I love you and I appreciate you more than you know. Happy 55th Birthday!!!!!
From Your Favorite Offspring**
* Let's all pronounce this "lit-chrul-lee"
** JUST KIDDING you titty babies!!! I'm probably not is favorite. Probably.