46

Bailey Ham 3

Lisa would have turned 46 on Monday.  The girls and I have chosen not to spend a ton of time remembering mom on the anniversary of her death, but rather to more officially celebrate her life on her birthday.  The casual remembrance typically includes Diet Dr. Pepper, Kanki Japanese Steak House and happy memories.  I don’t love Dr. Pepper, but on April 18, I drink.  I don’t love the Skanky Kanki (my nickname for the establishment), but on April 18, I eat.

We laugh and talk about her on a regular basis, so this isn’t a particularly difficult or odd time for us.  It is, however, a time to stop and reflect.  To answer questions.  For me, a responsibility to ensure her legacy lives on.

On Sunday I was invited to speak to an adult Sunday School class at my church on how to support those dealing with difficult situations.  Prepping to teach, I pulled out a stack of cards I received when Lisa died.  Although cathartic, and perhaps important at times, not necessarily a happy way to begin a fresh weekend.  Looking back, it is sort of amazing how you tend to forget the intensity of the pain experienced during that time.  It’s also shocking how quickly you can revisit the emotions with a small reminder.

One friend wrote this quote in the card she sent two months after Lisa died:

“The fullness of a person’s life is measured not in years, but in how he lived … there are rare people in this world who engage life at a different level – a deeper level than the rest of us.”

Although I’m sure that quote gets tossed around at many funerals for folks who die before 60, and although I believe it to be true, I wonder what really constitutes engaging in life at a different and deeper level.  As I poured through the notes near the top of my stack, there were a few that struck me.

“It sounds trite to say she was ‘unique,’ but she really was.  She was driven but not overbearing; she was kind but not patronizing; she was firm but compassionate.”

“(Lisa) has inspired me to be a better mom, friend, volunteer, Christian and worker because of how she lived her life.”

“Was there anyone in Raleigh she didn’t know?”

“One of my favorite memories of you and Lisa was when I visited the Y on one of my days off.  I will never forget walking up and seeing you and Lisa on the roof … I still wonder how the two camp directors were able to pull off tanning for an entire day and still get paid for it.  Who was in charge of camp?  You and Lisa were a great team!”

“She was such a force of nature.”

“I was a friend of your mom’s in college.  She was one of the first smiling faces I saw at our sorority.  From that moment on, she made me feel welcome and included.  As you know, that’s just how she was with everyone… making you feel comfortable.”

“My lasting image of her is seated on the Capon Springs stage, surrounded by all of the Capon kids, leading them in song.”

“She was an extraordinary person – someone who I remember trying to emulate as a teenager.”

“She was such a natural leader and full of such positive energy!!”

I believe that Lisa did engage life at a different level.  I don’t think she tried, I just think it was natural for her.

It doesn’t come as easily for me.  But I do think that her death has pushed me to intentionally and strategically work to live more boldly.

I do not want someone to spout out some quote at my funeral simply to fill up a 15 minute homily.  With Lisa, the remembrances were true, sincere; all who knew her could nod enthusiastically.  I’m learning later in life, but I think that losing Lisa has given my daughters the gift of living at a deeper level much earlier.  To watch them is as their mom is a beautiful thing.

Senior Citizen Puberty

Yesterday I turned the big 5 – 0.  Damn that’s old.

It’s ½ of 100.  Half a CENTURY.  I’ve lived FIVE DECADES.  Twenty five years, twice.  Geeze.

It’s not the number that bothers me.  Forty, fifty, sixty, thirty.  It’s just another day.  But it is more about the aging of my physical being.

At 4:50 AM on my birthday morning, I was at a gas station by the airport trying to fill up for a busy day ahead.  I could read the screen asking if I wanted a car wash.  I did not.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pair of glasses in my car so I couldn’t find the “no” button.  I had to restart the transaction three times before I finally pressed something that would allow me to move on.  So    dang    frustrating!

Last weekend we were going to a wedding so I wanted to clean up a bit.  Of course I showered and shaved, but there’s something about a special event that makes you feel like you need a good grooming.  So I got the expanda face mirror out and a pair of tweezers.  This hair pulling utensil was given to me as a gift.  It actually has a light on it.  Between the mirror and the random hair spotlight, nothing goes unnoticed.

I plucked the pom-pom sprigging from my ears, and it hurt like mess!  Who knew you could grow an ear toupee?

I remember my granddad’s ears.  He got to the point he shaved them, just like his face.  They turned gray.  Can’t wait for that genetic hand-me-down.

I then pulled out five eyebrow strands that were four times longer than their peers.  How does that happen?  Where do these mutant follicles come from?  Did I accidently splash Miracle Gro on them when watering the plants?  If I don’t pluck, my children hound me, beating down any sense of self-esteem I might have developed since I last saw them.

“Dad, you look like Albert Einstein.  It’s time to mow your brow!  Oh, and look at your ears.  Gross!”

My hip pops when I walk up stairs.  I’m gonna have to wait until I get on Medicare to get that thing replaced.  What if I get in the doughnut hole?

You know you’re getting old when you dread cutting your toenails.  It becomes such a chore.

I have to find time to sit down and somehow figure out how to get my toe close enough to my hand to make the transaction.  It wasn’t until my upper 40’s that I realized my toes were so far from my hands.  It really is a very long distance.

And pretzeling my leg into position is not the only issue.  My pinky toenail on the left side has double developed over my lifetime.  Like it has two times the thickness of any of my other nails.  Like bullet proof glass.

The good news is you couldn’t puncture the end of Mr. Pinkie with an ice pick.  Nuclear war?  He will survive.  By sixty I’m gonna need yard shears to ready for a special occasion.

This is like senior citizen puberty – suberty.

And AARP.  Couldn’t they mail the application a month or two AFTER your birthday?  You’re cruising along, all is good, and then you open the mailbox and there it is.  An envelope that essentially says Hello Old Fart!

Jiminy Christmas.

 

 

Dad!!! You’re SO old!!

Happy Birthday Danny Tanner! You are officially very elderly. That’s right folks – it’s the big 5-0. This is DJ Tanner reporting from Washington, DC. Since I will not be home to celebrate the milestone of my father being alive for half a century and since I am a broke college student that didn’t want to pay for shipping, I decided to give the gift of some kind words for all the world to see in this surprise blog post. Even though you may not understand every single inside joke, without further ado, I give you “50 Things We Love About Dad,” with much love from Michelle, Stephanie, and DJ Tanner. (Don’t be fooled, some of these pictures are old, so he looks younger).

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We love…

1.  His unique bowtie collection and his overall sense of style (even though we bash it occasionally). We love the bowtie thing, because he taught us how to tie them…and that’s how we get all of the cute boys.

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2. His stash of gum and sweet tarts in the car (that we all know he LOVES to share).

3. His funny voices/accents.

4. His ability to do something hilarious on command that oftentimes ends with one of his children wetting their pants.

5. His inability to naturally smile in pictures unless his children are tickling his chin.ry=400 me&dad

6. His knowledge of the daddy handbook. (Example: “excerpt from page 834, Daddy’s may tickle their daughters, but they may not tickle back.”)

7. His devotion to constantly remind us that “he loves us the mostest.”

8. His goober reading glasses that make him look at least 73.

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9. His lap for sitting.

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10. His motherlike actions – including, but not limited to, knowing the most recent girl fashion, understanding the need for manicures and eyebrow waxing, and the instinct to leave us alone at that time of the month.

11. His obsession with Chick-Fil-A, making it so that every road trip consists of at least three stops to our second home (Chick-fil-A that is).

12. His love handles, even though we know he hates them..

13. And his dedication to P90X because of them.

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14. His cheap spending habits. (Not sure which sister came up with this one, but it was not DJ).

15. His dedication to color coding his shirts in his closet.

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16. His willingness to play “Don’t come in my kitchen,” even when he has had a long day and when his children probably should have grown out of wanting to play this family game.

17. His ever growing pig collection.

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18. His pajamas – including his scrubs, his holey underwear, and his beloved slippers.

19. His commitment to his yard.

20.His addiction to the “Candy Crush” iPhone game.

21. His ability to edit college essays and election speeches.

22. His instinct to cheer us up with his crazy humor when we are stressed over a silly assignment.

23. His patience with technology. He’s not very good at it yet, but he tries. Remember that one time he deleted everything on his phone?

24. His tradition of writing us crazy poems in our lunch boxes or camp mailboxes. Here is an excerpt from a really long poem for when I went to college.

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25. His cooking. Well…not really, but we like to watch him think that he can cook fish and then watch him order Chinese food (our favorite) when it doesn’t work out.

26. His taste in music – he has taught us some oldies which we have fallen in love with.

27. His bravery when allowing each child to have 10 friends over all in one night.

28. His patience when all 30 of these kids stay up all night, or insist on cooking pancakes at 4 in the morning (true story).

29. His faith.

30. His back pocket from which he can always pull out old YMCA skits and ideas.

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31. His dancing skills. Specifically his waltzing in “A Christmas Carol” and his shagging.

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32. His love for his mom’s chocolate cake and the fact that he can eat the whole bowl of extra icing in one sitting.

33. His inability to drop us off at summer camp or college without crying paired with his ability to pretend like he isn’t crying, by putting on sunglasses.

34. His “blonde” hair.

35. His determination to teach us how to ride a bike back in the day.

36. His dedication to making sure we all have dates for all of our all girl school dances.

37. His team spirit.

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38. His insistence on taking family pictures when nobody else wants to.

39. His Christmas card making skills.

40. His ability to take a joke. Remember when we froze your underwear? Hid your slippers? Short-sheeted your bed?

41. His love for crab hunting at the beach.

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42. His skill for making our lunches look like “faces” on the plate, and his actions as we pretend to eat each body part. (Example: you eat the ears made of carrots, Dad can’t hear anymore!)

43. His book and his blog. We also like being the cover of his book.

44. His three cups of coffee in the morning and his dump afterwards. I’m not sure where any of us would be without this daily routine.

45. His interest in being involved in our schools. We like that he knows what’s going on and that he occasionally helps out on a committee or two.

46. His confidence when having the “…now what kind of tampons did you want” conversation on the phone in the middle of Target.

47. His second silly verse to “Sanctuary” that he made up and taught all three of us. Seriously, ask us and we will sing you a completely made up verse, synchronized.

48. His constant need to keep the house tidy.

49. LOUISE!

50!! Ep nom duppi duppi.

Happy Bday Little One

It’s Michelle’s 12th birthday, and she wanted to blow it out.  I’m guessing there aren’t that many 15 girl sleepovers left in me – but, as long as they’re willing to come to my house, I’ll have ‘em!

The girls and I got home around 5:10 on Friday.  The crew started showing up at 5:30.

Michelle was having 9 friends over.  Of course, that meant that Stephanie needed a couple as well which is fine with me.  The older ones sort of disappear for the most part and occasionally step in to help entertain the youngers.  I just check on them to make sure they haven’t smuggled in boys or started a fire.

At 5:50 Michelle ran out on the front porch.  I was under the carport with Stephanie trying diligently to hook my laptop up to a borrowed projector so that we could watch Netflix on the side of the house.  You know, bigger is better.

“Dad, can we open presents now?”

“Noooo.   You still have two friends who haven’t arrived!  We’re gonna do that later tonight.”

“But we’re bored.”

“Bored?  Bored?  Good lord child, they’ve only been here 20 minutes!”  This was clearly going to be the longest night of my life.

“What should we do?”

“Pretend.”

She looked at me as if she had never heard the word.

“Do you know what we did for my 12th birthday?” She braced herself for the “Walk Two Miles to School in the Snow” story, birthday style.

“Your grandparents blindfolded us, spun us in a circle and had us stick a tack into the sketch of a donkey which was hung on our paneled basement wall.  And you know what?”

“What?”

“We were thankful we had a basement with paneling that was soft enough a tack could penetrate it!”

“You’re the weirdest person I know.”  She ran inside with her iPhone in hand.

I’m a cheap sort of birthday dad.  I did spring for pizza – but not the restaurant kind.  I bought small circular crusts and let the kids make their own.  They at least acted like it was fun.

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We then headed out to the carport.  That’s when DJ drove up.

My oldest daughter looked at me.  “Dad.  You look tired.  Let’s project some music videos on the wall.  We’ll have a dance party.  Take a break.  I got the next 15 minutes.”

A quarter of an hour.  She is so thoughtful.

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The movie was a hit until it started pouring down rain about ¾ of the way through.  We grabbed all of our stuff and headed toward the basement door.  As the girls ran in, a snake the size of an earthworm squirmed passed the door.

From the noise that came out of the mouths of these children, I thought one had run into a chainsaw in motion.

The snake is probably in Montana by now.  Their screams no doubt scared the hell out of him.  He was slithering as fast as a serpent can slither.  I feel certain he will NEVER return.

At 10:30 we ate cake – well, sort of.  I rolled out cookie dough and etched a little pic of the kid ($3.69).  I figured after pizza and popcorn some fancy store-bought sugarfest would not be necessary.

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Look, if you’re gonna dress your children in Jack Rogers’ sandals, you gotta save somewhere.

Around midnight DJ came home from her adventures with friends, and she helped me settle the crew down.  I went to my room and began to doze off when I heard the back door open and a booming voice echo through the den.

“Happy Birthday Michelle!!”

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The laughter and screeches began again.  Uncle Jesse had arrived.  He pulled out the family guitar and began strumming as he held court with the nine preteens.

His work was complete at around 1 AM.  He did the job of an uncle.  Rile them up and get out-of-the-way.

No stiches, no tears, no vomiting or fist fights.  Asleep before 2.  I’d say that it was a pretty good night.

Sunday Post 188: Good Day

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I remember getting my first Izod shirt for a birthday.  I coveted the alligator!  I picked out the color in advance – burgundy with a green crocodile.  When September 29th rolled around, I tore open the package.  I looked so stinkin’ cool!  Sam McDade had NOTHIN’ on me when I pulled out that shirt.  I think I wore it every Wednesday.

I didn’t really care about anything else.  Cake was irrelevant.  Those celebrating with me?  Not as important as that left chest emblem.

I was 15, and t was ALL Izod for me.

Last week I turned 49.  I didn’t get a shirt, but what  I did get was so much more.

Michelle painted a jar with blue and red polka dots and filled it with my favorite candy:  peanut M & Ms.  She taped a small glittered card on the side:  For my sweet and nutty dad!  Buying those boogers must have put her in the poor house.  Interesting way for a kid to spend her savings.

Stephanie took time on my birthday eve to short sheet my bed.  I understand she was intent on an effective stunt.  It clearly took her a while, because there wasn’t a wrinkle in the covers when I crawled in at midnight.  Although I didn’t find it very amusing at the end of my day I was tired.  But when I awoke the next morning, I decided it was probably a fairly appropriate way to celebrate her father.

My mom made me my favorite birthday cake – it’s enormous!  Chocolate, fudge-like icing as thick as a slice of bread.  When her baking career is over, my years of eating that cake are done.  There isn’t anyone else in this world who can or would make that thing for me.  It’s an eight hour process.  I think she must love me.

My mother-in-law picked out a six pack of my favorite wines.  She told me I was getting to the age that gifts should be consumable!  That’ll last me a while.  Took more thought than an Izod ever could.

Oh, and my oldest, DJ, she came through too.   She texted everyone in the family and asked them their favorite song.  She then made a compilation CD.  We took a college tour the day after she gave it to me.  On our way down I-95, we listened to the 15 tunes, and I guessed the family member who chose each one.

It was a thoughtful and hilarious gift.  John Denver was represented as was Outcast.  From Frozen to Blue Grass to “We Need a Little Christmas,” my mom’s favorite holiday tune, there was a wide range of genres represented.  I’ll listen to that CD until it simply won’t play anymore.

DJ added my current favorite song in the mix and it appropriately represents last Monday, Good Day by Nappy Roots:

Hope yours is as meaningful as mine was this year.  Can’t wait til 50!

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful:Click here. And thanks

56? 108?

Mae at Xmas

She don’t look bad – for her age.

Tomorrow will be my mother’s birthday, we don’t know how old she is.

We estimate she’s somewhere between 56 and 108.

My dad says that she rounds to the nearest five-year increment. She was 40 from age 38 to 43 at which time she turned 45 for another six years.

She says she doesn’t mind if we know her age. She just can’t tell us – because she isn’t sure.

I asked my dad if he had her birth certificate. He said back then they just carved your name and birthdate on a tree in the yard. Perhaps someone jotted her birthday with a quill in a family bible somewhere. Who knows? My great-grandmother had ten kids so we have no idea where the official book might be.

As we had this discussion, my father informed me that I had about one year before I would receive my AARP card. His friend then told me that membership entitled me to free sodas at the Taco Bell. I hope I don’t end up in the doughnut hole, I anticipate being on a number of meds in the future. Both of my parents have pill boxes the size of a love seat.

“It’s not medicine. It’s just supplements. We don’t have any medical issues.”

Not unless you count: sciatica, adult acne, heart stents, eyelid “enhancements”, cataracts, deafness, back and joint issues, one bum leg, a bum hip, asthma, worsening allergies, wrinkles, hair loss and insomnia.

Fortunately, they’re still pretty hip. They text, Facebook, own iPhones and iPads, dance, know how to scan photos into the computer, and come to Raleigh to drive my kids around town at least two times per month.

I guess that’s not bad for 108 (or nearabouts.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riboflavin

Michelle’s birthday was Monday, so a few weeks ago I planned a small sleepover for just a couple of her good buddies.  It was one of those five friends or 22 sort of deal.  I’ve done 22.  That’s why we settled on five this year.

Jesse joined us for dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  We only had one spilled drink.

Jesse continued his run as the reigning “Waiting For Dinner Tic Tac Toe Champion”.  We played retaurant Truth or Dare during dinner.  There was a little bubble blowing via straw via nose action, and my dare was to walk into the Ladies’ restroom.  I knew it was a one seater so was fairly certain if the doorknob opened, I was golden.  Thankfully, I was right.

A sleepover wasn’t good enough though.  I was also told by my youngest that Kimmey’s mom always had an art project when they went to her house.  Our sitter suggested painting pumpkins.  I obliged – picked up six last weekend at the Farmer’s Market.

Michelle didn’t really want a cake, so we agreed on s’mores in the outdoor fireplace.  Oh, and we had to have a movie from the Redbox.

Waffles were required the next morning because Mr. Gibbler aways cooks a “BIIIG breakfast” on Saturdays (he also happens to fall asleep at 8 p.m. every evening – no wonder he has the energy to cook frickin’ waffles at dawn).

I was prepared.  All pieces of the night came across without a hitch.  One of Michelle’s friends even said, “Mr. Tanner, you have really nice paintbrushes.”  Take that Mrs. Gibbler!  Kickbutt paintbrushes – oh yeah!

Thankfully Nana had purchased Halloween tattoos and candy for the “bridesmaids'” gifts.  Yeah – come to my house, I buy you dinner, feed you s’mores, watch you for 15 hours, walk into the women’s bathroom for your amusment, and as if that is not enough, I feel a sick obligation to give you a gift for coming.

Who came up with that?  I wish I knew – because I would like to choke them with a satin ribbon and toss their body into a large silk gift bag.

When picking up the next morning, one of Michelle’s friends’ moms offered to take her lunch on Monday at school – sort of a special birthday treat.  I am thankful for the mothers who offer to do things for my kids while at the same time making sure I understand the norms of motherhood.

“Michelle, do lots of the kid’s mom’s eat lunch at school with them on their birthdays?”

“Yea.  And they also take a Special Snack for the class.  You were going to do that weren’t you?”

“I signed up to bring Special Snack on Friday because that’s the day of the week that your class always has Special Snack.  It was the closest Special Snack Day to your birthday.”  I was so proud of myself for my strategic Special Snacking.

“All the other kids have it on their birthday.”

“Of course they do.  I’ll just Speical Snack on Monday and Friday this week.”

“Some moms stay and help serve the snack.  Then we sing happy birthday.”

Perhaps I should just take the whole week off.  I wonder if this could be considered FMLA.

“Oh, and don’t forget, Jackson is allergic to tree nuts.”

“Tree nuts?”

“You can’t pack a snack with tree nuts. Jackson is allergic. He could die.”

I could envision the carpool line now, moms standing everywhere:

“Did you hear? School had to call EMS today.”

“Ooo. What happened?”

“The widower – you know, Michelle’s dad?”

“What did he do this time?”

“Nearly killed Jackson…”

“Tree nuts?”

“Un huh.”

I poured through the ingredients listed on the boxes of goodies I’d purchased for homemade trail mix.

What in the heck is Riboflavin? It’s in everything.

Nah – can’t possibly be tree nuts in Riboflavin…

Ahhhhhh –

“Hello. Umm.  This is Danny Tanner.  My daughter Michelle is in Jackson’s class. Well, this may seem like a silly question – but, well, is Jackson allergic to Riboflavin?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Great! Tell him Michelle says hey.  Goodbye.”

I just wanted to be sure.

So, Michelle, I’ll drop you off at 8, bring tree nut free Special Snack in at 10, pick up some yummy nuggets at 11:15 so I can eat with your sister at 11:30 (wouldn’t want anyone in the family to miss out on the action) and stay the full hour so I can eat with you at noon.”

“OK.”

I sort of wondered if it was gonna be worth all the trouble – I mean…she’s turning 10.  This ain’t her wedding day.

But when I saw the look on her face as we proudly walked down the hall to her classroom, arms piled full of Riboflavinated treats, I sort of remembered. Been a long time since someone helped make me feel that special.

Sunday Post 92: The Birthday Blues

It crept up on me again.  I wasn’t expecting it.  I thought I was just overwhelmed – too much to do, too many details.  Both true; neither my problem.

Turning 47 wasn’t supposed to be a big deal.  We never much celebrated birthdays.  Maybe an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins – perhaps on the exact day, maybe earlier, maybe later.  It didn’t much matter to us.

Some guys rearrange their work or travel schedule to be home for the anniversary of their wife’s birth.  Not me.  Mine didn’t require it.

Lisa did throw me a party on my 40th.  She catered bar-b-q and hired a man to play his guitar in our backyard.  My father-in-law passed out beer on our front porch as our guests arrived.  My parents manned the kitchen.  Lisa and I worked the crowd – friends from all the corners of our lives.

So why the weepiness for me?  I heard the same song last week with no affect.  This week is different.

Maybe I was sad because Lisa never got her guitar player in the backyard.  She didn’t quite make it to 40.

Maybe it’s because I’m the only one still celebrating birthdays.  Maybe it drags up the anger and the frustration that the world just isn’t fair.  Why couldn’t we add her years to mine and divided by 2? 40 years for her, 80 for me – 60 for each of us.  That seems more fair.

No.  She didn’t get to celebrate 47.  She also didn’t get to pick out an outfit for the middle school dance with Stephanie tonight or quiz Michelle on her continents and oceans.  She didn’t get to read, with pride, DJ’s paper on the Iliad.  She didn’t even get to go on the Target run to buy the gargantuan package of toilet paper, giggling all the way through the store.

All of that is in a knot deep, deep within me – the anger, the frustration, the regret, the sadness.  Occasionally some of it comes out.  But not all.  There are parts of the wound that are so deep, they’ll never see the light of day.

Most of the time it won’t matter.  Mostly, it won’t be visible to the naked eye.  But a few will see, and me – able to compare now with then.

My day is over.  The cake is gone, and the knot tucked neatly beneath my spleen.  It’ll come back out; I just don’t know when.

Another Year, Another Wrinkle

I’ve got a birthday this week.  I turn 47.  And yet I don’t feel a day over 46.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what in the hell happened?

Since when did my hair turn white?  Not only on my sideburns and around my temples, but the stuff is taking over my chest.  Out with the brown, in with the gray!

It’s like old man kudzu.  And I’m not excited about where it might appear next.

The older I get, the more grooming I do.  As if showering and shaving isn’t enough every day, I now have to hunt for rogue hair all about my being.

Oh there’s a thatch growing out of my nostril.  A pompom of fuzz protruding from my ear canal.  And the one, only one, standing fully erect right on the top of my left shoulder-blade.

My eyebrows remind me of the fringe on my grandma’s handmade afghans.  I could serve spinach dip out of the crevices in my forehead.  Not only do I need glasses to read the menu at a restaurant, I also can’t see my food without them.  Imagine my surprise when the blurry “carrots” I bit into turned out to be rutabaga.  YUCK.

My grandfather, Woodrow, had a forehead the size of Montana.  And as Spurgeon, the other, added years to his life, his ears expanded like a Magic Towel wash cloth.  What a future.

I pee all the time, and there’s a 3″ x 3″ patch of skin on my back that’s as dry as a bone.  “Oooooo Dad!  What is that?  Scabies?”

“No!  It’s not scabies!!  It’s dry skin – it’s called eczema.”

“You need to get that checked out.  It’s gross.”

My girls are outstanding at pointing out all my flaws.

“You’re belly is jiggly!”  “You have warts on your feet.”  “I didn’t know you could get pimples at such an old age.”

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to develop a strong self-esteem before I had girls nearing the teenage years.

They haven’t discovered the vein that’s popping out around my right ankle although they relish the opportunity to discuss the volume of lint that collects in my bellybutton.  “Pull it out dad, I need a new scarf for winter.”

Where does that stuff come from and why is it in my navel?  I feel like a dryer.

I’m like an old house that needs major repairs.  I’m just not sure I could recoup the investment.

Happy Birthday to You

Posted by Danny

As a kid I hated birthday parties.  Not mine – only the ones for others.

There was just something about them – one, my mom didn’t go with me.  Two, there were often people there I did not know.  I used to be pretty intimidated around strangers.

The boy across the street was a good guy.  He spent nearly the entire summer at our house – arriving before breakfast and leaving at dusk when my mother shooed him away.  His parents were older – his father owned a funeral home.  That, that in and of itself freaked me out.

In addition, his father had one leg.  As a child, I found that perplexing and bothersome. 

I was scared to death to go to my neighbor’s birthday party.  My friend loved red velvet cake – something in my mind combined the missing leg with the funeral home, blood and that cake.  I get the heebie geebies just thinking about it today.

At another birthday party near Halloween, I dressed up like Dracula.  The white makeup ran down my fake fangs as I cried my eyes out until my mom picked me up.  If I think about it hard, I can sort of taste the bitter flavor of K Mart face paint.

I don’t guess that I hate birthdays anymore.  I sort of enjoy eating cake and celebrating my friends and family.

We found out Lisa was sick about five months after her 39th birthday.  When I turned 40, she threw me a huge party – bar-b- q and a man playing a guitar in the backyard.  A couple hundred folks came out to wish me well.  I’d asked her if she wanted a party for her 40th.  “Nah.  What I’d really like is to take a trip with just you.”

That trip never came – she died a month before she would have turned forty.

And so today, on what would have been her 42nd birthday, I’ll remember the ones we had, and I’ll dream about the ones we didn’t.

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