Store-bought baked goods & lukewarm coffee

Today would have been my Dad’s 83rd birthday. Early this morning, my sister called to tell me that she dreamed of Dad, our aunt, and grandparents. She dreams of them all often. I began to cry while she was telling me the dream, overcome by a wave of missing, not yet awake enough to try and stave off the sob. The suddenness of the moment reminded me of Holly Hunter in that scene in Broadcast News, when she sits on her bed, holds the phone off the hook, and cries…hard, for a minute or two…daily. Hard cry. Done.

A little later, I spoke to my Mom who was heading to yoga (I love this), then to the cemetery to visit Dad’s grave, and finally to a one-year-old cousin’s birthday party, which somehow all seems appropriate.

On my way to work, I phoned my brother, also at work. We made small talk, and I eventually told him that I called because it was Dad’s birthday. I guess I just needed to talk to everyone that I knew loved him as much as I do. I asked my brother if he remembered Dad eating Entenmann’s Hot Cross Buns, a seasonal item only available around Easter…and Dad’s birthday. He remembered, and laughed, and I did too. “Those were AWFUL,” I said. (I love you Entenmann’s, just not your hot cross buns.)

As was standard with any bread product or baked good my father devoured, he generously buttered each piece before eating it, and washed it down with lukewarm coffee.

I can see him in my mind, sitting at the kitchen table, sunlight streaming through the windows, the Sunday paper spread out everywhere, eating those hot cross buns, sipping coffee. Content.

In some ways, it didn’t take much to make him happy. In other ways, I’m sure it was the hardest thing in the world to do.

That’s who we all are, I guess. Simple. Complicated. Content. Wanting. Ever so beautifully flawed and flawless.

Happy birthday, Daddy.

What Mom Said

Happy birthday, Mama!

Today is my Mom’s 73rd birthday. As you may be able to tell from the photo, my Mom has a rather large personality. Though she measures a scant (albeit feisty) 5 foot 1 3/4 inches (she insists on the 1 3/4), she has a room-filling presence, quick wit and gift for storytelling that has made her a force of mothering power. She is indispensable in some of life’s most challenging moments, but do not, under any circumstances wake her up in the middle of the night with a bad dream. She is rather less than helpful. Unless you’re bleeding out from your femoral artery, then she’s awesome.

In an effort to honor her 73 years on this planet, I’d like to share a list I compiled several years back, a testament to all of our Moms, their personalities and most memorable quotes. Enjoy…and do feel free to comment with one of your Mom’s lines. I mean, what are we saving these gems for?

If I had a quarter for every time my Mom said…

You need to put on some lipstick.
-Katherine Barry Verano

Call me back or I’ll take you out of my will.
-Anne Chandler

You LIKE this.
-Mary Elizabeth Woods

Of course, your Grandfather gambled away MY college tuition.
-Tasha Gandy

Balls.
-Tara Laposa

I’ll break your legs.
-Joan Yax Lyman

I’m not going to ask you again.
-Emily Hedblom Currie

Get your hair out of your face.
-Kit O’Connell Menis

You know, you’re supposed to be the smart one!
-Vita Martino Larkin

Are you sure there’s enough room in the crotch?
-Jenny Badman

Our Lord is watching you.
-Patti Spaniak

What about how I feel?
-Amy Stemmler

You should keep [insert newly-dumped boyfriend’s name here] as a friend because you never know when you’ll need help moving.
-Heather Lane Lyman

Reminiscing

I celebrated my own birthday as well as the U.S.’s this weekend. (As my friend said, “America, what a great idea.”) Much fun. Friends as both presents and presence. Swimming in the river. Singing Stevie Nicks while boating. What, you don’t? Sipping bubbles. Corn on the cob. Paintings of my couch. Chocolate cake. Rum drinks outside. Less than molten temps in Charleston. Weekend perfection. Also, this…a recent inundation of vintage photos appearing on Facebook. Methinks it is due, in part, to my fast approaching 20th high school reunion. Whatever the case, take a peek.

Red couch interpreted. Acrylics, 2010.
Generic (black + white) dance, white man's overbite, circa 1990.
Brother, first row, #32. Dad, third row, right end.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Dad, circa 1981, enduring humiliation at a family reunion.

Today would have been my Dad’s 81st birthday.

One of the things I miss most is his ability to who hold himself in the manner of a most distinguished gentleman, even in the face of great silliness, times of undue drama and good ole tom foolery. Like, say, the male humiliation segment of a family reunion back in 1981.

Happy birthday, Daddy. Here’s whipped cream in your eye.

Love,

Jennygirl