Friday, October 24, 2014
Today is my son Able's birthday. His cousin, Rachel, gave birth to a brand spanking new baby boy this morning so he now has a birthday buddy in the family, always a fun thing. When I was carrying Able, I really wanted him to be born on my dad's birthday but that day passed and he chose the 24th, his own day…well, now it is his and baby Joseph's.
The picture below is of Dad and me on Dad's birthday a couple of days ago. A couple of my brothers drove down and we celebrated with Scott's smoked ribs, Ringwood corn and an Italian Cream Cake made by a friend. We didn't do anything earth shattering…sat on the porch and watched the day go by, told some stories, watched a little baseball. Mostly we simply enjoyed each other's company and were happy to be together, sharing a glass of wine and a joke and some homemade Dilly Bread made by the birthday boy himself. We did have candles (3) and there was singing, by those present and by all the grand and great-grand kids who called throughout the day. If mom had been there it would have been perfect.
If you were to ask me to describe my dad to you, these are the words I would use: wise and compassionate, strong and smart and generous. He loves to read and learn new things. He is a problem solver with a long view of things and a discerning eye. He's a great listener…even when you think you aren't saying anything.
He will tell you he practiced medicine in the golden era of medicine, when you could still have actual relationships with your patients and their families and make your own decisions about what treatments they required. Before the red tape gummed up the works and docs started spending more time looking at a computer screen than at the patient in front of them. I'm glad he did. I'm also glad he had a brother who was a physician so they could bounce things off each other, making the solving of mysteries that much more interesting. What could be better!
I do wish his father had lived to see the two of them at the top of their game. That would have been good. Heck, I would have liked to have known that guy myself. I hear he was fifty kinds of wonderful.
Ah well, I think I can see him, parts of him, in Dad and his brothers. We tend to mimic the best parts of those we love and admire, if we can pull it off. I often find myself thinking….'what would Dad do in this situation?'. I hope some of his good characteristics rubbed off on me, heaven knows I've been watching.
Dad has a phenomenal memory, still, and I find myself letting him remember things for me too much of the time. I have a good memory too but I like to watch him remember things, listen to those memories pull the thread of a story out of his past. Stories about what it was like living in the Panhandle during the Dust Bowl, or fighting on Okinawa, or hunting quail with his brothers and sons, or working in the cafe alongside his mom and dad, or riding in a rumble-seat with a pretty girl, eating cherries out of her bathing cap.
It's good to have a storyteller and those who will take the time to listen. It takes quite a bit of being still before a story begins to blossom; being still and willing to wait for the magic. But it is always worth the wait because those stories, about uncles and grandparents, old friends and happenings from days long past are our story, our history. It's where and who we came from and eventually we are in the tale too. It is good to remember; it ties us together.
Every family is different. Who are the storytellers in yours?