September 4th. It’s my dad’s birthday. Maybe it means breakfast for dinner, maybe a black and white cookie, or an Entenmann’s cake, or donuts. Maybe I will eat pretzels and watch a Cyd Charisse movie, or Bridge on the River Kwai. I will kiss my mom and text my siblings. We will all think about him, sigh, as we do. I believe in celebrating those who have passed…in keeping them alive through story, rituals, and memories…I believe they feel our love. It is a comforting way to deal with death.
My nephew Lionel never got to meet my dad in person, but somehow I find the connection between Lionel and the grandpa he never met beyond strong. There is a part of my dad in him. Born a bit over a year after my dad passed, Lionel looks exactly like him…those full crooked lips, those gorgeous blue eyes. This resemblance had me in tears the first time I met him. I walked in the hospital room, looked at his little face, and ran out crying…a happy cry. My poor sister-in-law. She saw it too, nursing a baby who looks exactly like your father-in-law is not easy, but she powered through. As he grows up we see that Lionel doesn’t just look like my dad, he has the same off the charts smarts, spirit, twinkle in his eyes…and he is a most genuine and kind human. Swoon.
My dad was an imp. When I play the movie version of the stories I know of his youth, I picture the scrappy kids from The Little Rascals, running around the streets getting into mischief. Saturdays meant some stickball then the picture show…for 10 cents he could watched the serials, then a double feature…with a bag of penny candy as his food for the day. When we would buy penny candy as kids…Tootsie Rolls, taffy, Dots… literally for a penny each, he would tell us of getting a BAG of candy for a penny, those were the days.
So much to write, but this is not an obit, it is a Swoon, a Swoon during a time when it is so hard to swoon. There will be no Fire Island this Labor Day weekend, no celebrating my dad in the house he loved so so very much, no chat with him while at the ocean, or creating a huge family dinner of eggs over easy and home fries…none of that. All that set aside for this year, but there was no way I was also missing out on the Entenmann’s, so I braved the grocery store. We will celebrate with sugar, preservatives, and fat. Donuts will be delivered to Jacob in Los Angeles…because remembering is important. I am sure my siblings will celebrate with their own dad junk food selections…there were so very many to choose from. Remembering brings smiles.
“Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life—in the stories they tell about us.” — from the movie Coco
Happy Birthday Dad. So many more people got know you a bit today. Swoon.