To My Dad On His Birthday
Today is my father’s birthday. I’d tell you how old he is but because both my parents are private people I doubt he’d be pleased with me. To be honest, I don’t feel like my dad is ever pleased with me but that’s just how things are in my family.
We grew up in a household where if you were praised it might be taken as a sign that you didn’t need to try any harder. Instead, we were encouraged (choosing to see this in the most positive light) to perpetually strive for an amorphous success and to never rest. Obviously greatness could never be achieved in my family.
I remember sharing with him my UCLA report card- once. It contained three As and two B+s. He angrily told me how lousy that was and how do I expect to get into veterinary school with those grades? The next quarter I ‘failed’ to tell him about my ‘F’ in the History of Ancient Greece and the change in my major to English. What was the point in harvesting that level of disappointment?
But the lessons sunk in and for that I am truly grateful. I’m unabashedly competitive, unrelenting in my endeavors and will not take ‘no’ from anyone not in a position to say ‘yes’. I’m resourceful, clever and aggressive if sometimes lacking in tact. Yes, I’m an underachiever in his eyes. And yet others often compliment me on “living the life.” What’s that saying about not having expectations then you can never be disappointed? My folks don’t know that one.
My dad never stopped. A skilled orthopedic surgeon, attorney, trumpet player, classical guitarist with a voice like Bing Crosby, a voracious intellect, passionate skier and traveler, told jokes to make crowds laugh and even performed jaw dropping close-up magic at office parties. Even his lemon trees burst with fruit. I was doomed to fail by comparison. If I had to write an essay on the most influential person in my life it would have to be my dad. The good and the bad, loving because of, in spite of, despite of. And even with all of our rocky interactions I know he’s there for me like no other and I could never stop loving him. He’s the one person that can call me “Baby’ (which has happened only twice in my life) and melt my heart the way only dads can.
I’m sure he’s grumbling right now about how I didn’t send him a birthday card or buy him a gift that he would more than likely give away anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You keep it” after I’ve searched high and low to find the ‘perfect’ gift. On father’s day this year I sent a photo of the two of us as a canvas print.
He said he didn’t like how he looked and “it’s sitting on a shelf ‘somewhere’. Sometimes he comes around. I bought him a sweet fleece zip jacket and he tried to give it to Ryan but we refused to take it back. Later, my mom told me he wears it all the time. That took about six months.
So I decided to write this post as a birthday gift. He can’t return it, he can’t wear it but he can read it as many times as he wants… or never. I hope he knows how much I love him and how much of him is inside of me.
I found this video on YouTube several months ago and it instantly brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me so much of my father. I know that he has an Eddie inside him. It’s what makes him beautiful and timeless. I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday!