Happy Birthday, Dadser!

Happy Birthday!

If I’m doing the math correctly in my head, you would have been 87 years old today. I can only imagine what kind of mischief you would be getting into. I hope that wherever you are in the vast cosmic plane, you’re reading a Scientific American, yelling at the television set and enjoying an English muffin, toasted to perfection with hot bubbling cheddar cheese on top. I also hope you have a motorcycle to ride and a sailboat.

I miss you terribly and not a day goes by that I don’t think about you. With the holidays presently upon us, my memories are particularly focused on Christmas. I can see you so clearly still – sitting on the living room floor with a set of directions and a thousand little pieces of whatever you were assembling scattered all around you. I recall specifically how most of the things you were tasked with putting together usually involved a nine-volt battery and how, without fail, you could always convince me to “test” the battery by putting my tongue on top of it, sending a small shock through my little mouth. You were a twisted old bird and I was not the brightest of your offspring.

Throughout the years, I’ve come to recognize much of you in myself; I play tricks on my kids, I get cranky and stoic when I’m focused on a task and I have no patience for pretense. As I get older, I care less and less about other people’s approval. That’s a characteristic I gleaned from you. True freedom is the ability to be authentically who you are without the unnecessary constraints of other people’s opinions. Thanks for that.

Of course, there are many ways in which I will never be like you.  The technical gene skipped me and I have no talent for engineering. As such, I will never construct the perfect doghouse, fix a car or get a patent for anything. I will also probably never climb on the roof to clean leaves out of the gutter or  eat those weird little oysters out of a can. Some things are better left to your spirit and memory.

Your grandsons are big, beautiful and, at times, a handful. Parenting teenagers is the ultimate karmic payback for having been one. I’m sorry for anything I put you and Mom through – both the things you knew about and all the things you didn’t – and I still appreciate that morning that you bailed me out of jail, even though you’d instructed me never to call you if I got arrested for anything.

And speaking of Mom, she’s doing well and finally behaving herself these days. She’s healthy, safe and as sweet and cute as ever. You’d be proud of her.

You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul and you’re in my DNA. You were a classic, old fella. If by the time I leave this world I’m even half as hip as you were, then my life was well spent. Happy Birthday, Dadser. I love you.