Around the Corner: A hard celebration to have
Today is my day.
I’m not saying I own it, but once I did try to tell a new friend in high school his birthday couldn’t be April 16, because that was my birthday.
This sixteenth day of the fourth month of the year marks the day of which, over four decades ago, I came into this world.
I always joke that my parents dropped their taxes in the mail, and headed for the hospital, but my mom told me many years later that it was bowling the night before that helped induce labor — which she had been hoping for.
You could say I’m a big fan of birthdays, and I always have been.
I blame my parents; they did a great job making birthdays special through the years.
Some of the best times were on this day — my mom and dad always let my brothers and me have big gatherings growing up.
I would invite all my friends and make it an all-day event on the farm. It started with games and riding dirt bikes, moved to movies and food, and always ended with lots of cake and ice cream.
Each year meant more candles, which in turn meant a bigger cake.
Although this year’s celebration will be subdued with the current stay at home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t help but think of the good memories of birthdays past.
Both my parents grew up in modest households, with working class parents, and I believe that is why they liked to splurge from time to time.
Giving their children the things they didn’t have when they were our age, making all the hard work and hours they put in on the farm worth it.
My dad was always a kid at heart when it came to celebrations, and he was great at surprises.
I remember one year I was expecting a new motorcycle; I know that is a pretty big ask, but that was all I wanted. After opening my presents, the gift I had hoped for was mysteriously absent.
I had run all over the farm hoping to find it hidden somewhere, but I came up empty-handed. Right before we sat down to eat my dad told me to run to the shop and get him a Pepsi.
Not thinking anything shady was going on, I ran across the driveway and opened the shop door and flicked on the lights. Lo and behold as my eyes rose from watching my footsteps, not more than 6 feet away was a bright yellow and blue, brand-spanking-new Suzuki DS80 dirt bike.
I was floored; I’m sure my eyes were the size of silver dollars. Unbeknownst to me, my family had snuck out behind me and watched as the surprise transpired.
There are many birthday memories that have stuck out through the almost countless birthdays, which have come and gone since. But the one that I can picture as if it were yesterday was that moment when I turned around, and all I could see is the grin on my dad’s face.
I will cherish that memory this year, as today marks my first birthday without him, and the first time he won’t be able to call and wish me a happy birthday, which was our new tradition.
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