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I forgot my father’s birthday

December 31, 2019

I forgot my father’s birthday.

He died 32 years ago. I am 64.

We had a full on week of Christmas: children visiting, funeral, Vermont, 2 dinners hosted/cooking/setup/cleanup, 4 attended, getting/wrapping/giving unending presents, serving at services (3 in the week). I was researching/writing/sending 3 articles to 3 publishers, while meeting with 6 or 8 clients, delivering a couple of dozen shortbread bags to others. Running a dozen jobs and 5 employees that week, really no days off.

And I forgot my father’s birthday.

His birth was 110 years ago. And two days.

I did not forget those dinners, presents, services, projects, shortbread, clients, children, wife, articles, meetings, funeral, – really anything else.

I maintained social media (like this) sent bid results, designed changes, researched the next few talks, even looked at our Christmas Tree.

But I forgot my father’s birthday.

When he was alive, I was often separated from him, for strange and inscrutable reasons, and would go weeks, even months, without hearing from him. I do not think I ever received a call from him in those separated years – just my mother.

I remember him, drunk, on the phone 41 years ago, when I called him to ask if he would co-sign a loan to pay off college (after he had fully paid tuition for the first eight semesters) and he slurred. “No.”

“Why?” (Screamed)

“Because you are a bad risk.”

Well, in remembering his 110th birthday, I proved a bad risk. What would I have done to recognize the birth of a person 32 years dead? I just would have remembered it, as I had done the days before it passed. As I had done every year that I have been alive.

Our family is a dwindling connection. My mother died over 20 years ago and one sibling ended her life because of her own broken life two years ago, and I exchange a Christmas card with the other, every year, unseen since my mother’s funeral.

But I forgot my father’s birthday.

In all the efforts, outcomes, joys, and love, failure is virtually everywhere. A flip side to control, even belief. The reality of unmet expectations, or just shallow laziness is simply there, available at a moment’s exhaustion, the fog of commitment, even just the confusion of trying.

Just a remembrance, in silence, of 78 years of a life split – in a confused childhood, a happy 20 years, then a last half never being what he hoped he would be – would have meant that his life had someone to remember it,

I am sure my sister remembered it.

I am sure her memory was of the worshipful young dad who adored her until she was seen to not be what he had hoped for, just like him. He avoided those hopes with me. I was left to myself, wondering what was going on, what it meant.

What it meant was that I forgot his birthday, day before yesterday.

And I remember this.

God forgive me. Please.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Richard permalink
    December 31, 2019 8:31 am

    Ah, the erroneous joys, complications, travails and disappointments of the splintered family.. How well we know it… It’s birthed in a bottle, in the aftermath of the WWll generation… Their Reid was of a different sort then.. Ours was street drugs, today it is opioids… Every generation has it’s own, it seems…a further discussion could be interesting.

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