My birthday’s on Sunday, marking the 2nd one in Marrakech. This year I will spend the actual day basking in the glow of a decadent massage at the Four Seasons. Can’t wait!
Of course this is such a bittersweet time. My beloved dad and I shared birthdays you see. He was the 15th of October and I am the 16th. With Canadian Thanksgiving the weekend before, we’d always be certain to have a family birthday with everyone around.
I remember when I was little I decided that I should get one gift on dads birthday because, you know, anticipation. My best memory was a little plastic glow in the dark ghost finger puppet. Loved it!!! Another year my pre-gift was a body suit. The kind with the snaps in the crotch so you could pee. It was, to this very day, the only top I ever tucked into pants.
As dad got older we often had bigger parties for him. I remember with great fondness (I jest) the year we had a whole bunch of people over and I spent the whole party hosting – drinks, greetings, cleaning up and feeding. I think the family was a little shocked when I appeared to the group and said “I refuse to light and deliver my own birthday cake”. Ha! But that’s the joy of sharing a birthday!
Then came the birthday when dad turned 86. He was tired. We’d lost mom the year before and on Thanksgiving dad went to bed in the middle of the day. Poor guy had just had enough. I returned to the house on Wednesday night (the 15th) to sleep over and have dinner together. He had soup I remember and we fed him a few spoonfuls, too weak to lift hand to mouth. That night as Margaret took him off to bed I said “Happy birthday today Papa Bear” and he said “Happy birthday tomorrow Baby Bear”. He gave me that endearing smile of his and a little wave. I kissed him on his forehead.
Daddy died the next morning. It was early in the day. The ambulance and fire trucks showed up as they do, alerting the whole street to the one thing we all knew was coming but everyone dreaded. I remember calling my sister and talking to the police (unattended death), talking to friends and neighbours. The day was a blur but I remember every single second of it. At the end of the day, the whole family together, eating lasagne that Andrea brought and prepared, and I made my nephew Drew go to Dairy Queen and get Dilly bars for everyone. A birthday is a birthday after all.
I really can’t think of a more appropriate day to lose him really. Those are our days. I always tended to be a “daddy’s girl”, often coming to blows with my mother but never, ever upsetting my dad. Such a gentle man. Once disowned by his own father, left nothing on his death after having spent years proving himself to be worthy. He hated his father but he took good care of his sisters as a good man does and he never ever ever let anything come between himself and anyone in the family. A good Libra my dad, he hated conflict. Never understood it and couldn’t stomach it. Just like me. He took care of his grandchildren when they needed taking care of. He was, in every single sense of the word, a good man. Everyone loved my dad. A joker to the very end, curious, smart, a lover of travel, a sportsman, a beautiful skier, a great provider and generous to a fault. I miss him. We all miss him. So very much.
So every year I end up reflecting on things at some time around the 15th. Today is that day. Sure I’m a little sad but it’s been a really great day today. I have my bestie in the house to share the day with. To catch up on things, make plans, talk about stuff that doesn’t get talked about on the phone. I made dinner tonight. (Shocking I know!) Lovely music and the evening call to prayer setting the backdrop. Life in the living room. Two Libras together, relaxing in a mid October chill. As it should be.
So yah. I miss the old man. And for a long long time I lived with my brain in the past, not willing to give up his memory and move on. Afraid that if I gave up the pain and missing that I would lose him forever. But then the time finally came, I took the leap and I let go.
I let go and looked forward and that’s when the magic happened. And here I am, humming away in Marrakech, in my cozy little home. Love in the house and love in my heart. He’ll never be far away my dad. He comes out of my mouth with every whip and jab. I see him in every curiosity I observe. In every cute old man that goes by. He’ll never be far away.