8/08/2006

when parents are human

Over the weekend I attended a surprise birthday party for my dad's 65th birthday. His birthday was actually on August 2nd so we had to make him believe that we'd all been too busy to acknowledge it. I learned that even at age 65 a grown man pouts. Turns out my dad complained to just about everyone he knew that no one did anything for his birthday. It's kind of ironic really because my dad has forgotten my own birthday quite a few times in my lifetime but that's a whole other story. So anyway, we all show up at my dad's place while he's out golfing and he was pretty surprised by the time he came home. I could tell he felt kind of stupid for complaining to everyone about being forgotten but as he always tells me, what's done is done. It's strange celebrating one of your parent's 65th birthday because even though you know that everyone gets old, somehow you never see it happening to your parents. You don't think about your parents getting sick and you most definitely don't think about them being old enough to collect social security. I see other people's parents and they're old, but not mine. I'm not sure why we live in denial for so long except maybe it's because we don't ever want to think about losing them. As I sat there watching my dad squint trying to read the birthday card I'd handed him, I realized that my dad is human. He will get old, he will most likely get sick, and some day he will pass on to the next life waiting beyond this one. It's not a pleasant thought coming to that realization but I suppose it's inevitable.

As always my dad left us all with some words of wisdom, words I file away under "things to remember". He was talking about his life as a boy, his poor family moving here from Ireland with exactly $53 to start a new life with. He said that growing up he believed that he knew everything. He knew that life could be hard so he decided to be harder than life. When he was in his twenties he started to wonder if maybe he didn't know as much as he thought he did and that left part of him vulnerable. When you don't know everything, you risk losing what you've already obtained. And now that's he's an old man he can't remember if he ever knew anything at all and that vulnerable part has become what's left. He said that all the time he spent trying to convince himself that he was hard enough to survive his life, should have been spent accepting that being hard is what makes you unable to survive at all.

So my dad is 65. He's what some consider old but luckily for now, he's healthy. He still has the flaws he had before, some seem larger and more apparent now. But as I look at the father that's been in my life for 38 years, finally I see that the 'hardness' has escaped him. The edges of who he is may still be like stone, but the inside, it's pure marshmallow.

9 Comments:

  1. Rex said...
    Happy Birthday to your Dad. You always are so insightful. Thanks for that. Rexie
    Michelle said...
    What a wonderful post about your father. I wish him all health and happiness in his years to come.
    kimmyk said...
    I remember thinking long time ago how 65 seemed so old..and now I look at my parents who will be 65 next year and I realize they still have alot of spunk left in them. As I'm sure your dad does. It's good to be an adult and understand that your parents are still people and have so much to offer us.

    Happy bday to your pops!
    Anonymous said...
    may he have many more birthdays with u and everybody else!!
    Christine said...
    funny, thats what the grief counselor was trying to tell me last week--that I have survived--

    somehow it doesn't seem enuff to have survived, I'm still waiting to live--
    sirreene said...
    Yep, they're all soft inside and the hardest thing to comprehend is that they can burn & be gone so quickly. Enjoy each other.
    Caterpillar said...
    Oh my gosh, that gave me little goosebumps by the end! It's so hard for me to hear whenever my dad talks about looking back on his life and realizing that he got things wrong, or realizing that he didn't have it figured out. I hate thinking that my dad might be suffering or regretting things, just because he's my dad and I want him to be happy.

    I'm happy that your dad was surprised and happy to see everyone there to celebrate with him. And I'm glad you see the marshmallow that's inside him!
    WDKY said...
    Isn't it amazing how these relationships just keep on evolving. If you let them, of course.

    Missed you x
    Fitèna said...
    Beautiful Net!
    I guess we don't see our parents as old because we grow old with them. You get what I mean? Just like they see us as kids even when we're old enough to be parents.

    Fitèna

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