Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Singing from Italy

Another birthday has come and gone.  This one was beautiful, in many ways.

Every year since I was a small child, my family has gathered around my mother's table to celebrate my birthday dinner.  And ever since I grew old enough to appreciate how fortunate I am to be surrounded by my family (even though they drive me crazy on a regular basis), my heart swells and my eyes mist over when the lights dim and their beloved faces are lit by the glow of flickering candles on a home-baked cake carried in by my mother.

I always knew a day would come when there would be one or more faces missing.  I assumed that the first to go would be my grandparents.  Any other 36-year-olds out there who still have all four grandparents living in this world?  My oldest grandfather at age 95, is frail in body, but he's still as stubborn as a mule.  "They're gonna have to shoot me," he says.

No, it wasn't one of my grandparents who was missing from the party.  It was my step-dad, gone since he separated from my mother in January of this year.

I was sure that he would forget my birthday.  He's notoriously absent-minded and disorganized, and always relied on my mother to notify him of important family dates.  Not only that, but he's away in Italy at the moment, far from any reminders of his usual schedule.

I was so sure that he would forget, and so desirous of receiving his blessing for my coming year, that when I spoke to him the day before my birthday, I prompted him to wish me "Happy Birthday".  

"Oh," he said, surprised. "I thought it wasn't until tomorrow."  

"It is!" I said, more surprised than him.  "I didn't think you would remember!"

"It's in my planner," he said.  "I was going to call you.  I'll still call you tomorrow, to sing to you."

 I'm pretty sure my mom must have reminded him, when they had one of their many conversations about the administrative processes they are now going through.  But even so, how sweet of him!  Singing for someone is always a lovely gift.

Another thing that I kind of forgot was that he's in a different time zone.  Usually he doesn't wake up until around 11:00 am.  Since his new girlfriend's house is in California, three time zones later, half the time he's not available by phone until after 2:00 pm Toronto time.  So imagine my surprise when my phone rang at 8:55 am on Saturday morning.  It was my step-dad, singing Happy Birthday to me.

After I got over the shock, I realized that it was 2:55 pm in Italy.  Still, this year he earned the distinction of being the first person to wish me a happy birthday on the Actual Day.

It was a good start to an excellent day.  A summery sun shone in a blue sky, and there were many good things in store.  Friends, family, gifts, cake.

And in the evening, at my mother’s house, when my family sang the birthday song for me, I only felt a little smidge of sadness at my step-dad's absence.  My mother leaned over and whispered to me "I eats you last!", her code for "I love you", and even that smidge was erased.



unsigned said...

Happy Birthday!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Happy Birthday!! And wishing you many more.

Nilsa S. said...

ALL FOUR GRANDPARENTS STILL LIVING? That's a feat worth celebrating! I have none left (as if you needed a barometer)!

Sounds like there was celebrating around the world on your behalf. That's a pretty great way to spend a day! Happy belated birthday!

Karen said...

Happy B Day! I am proud of your step-dad. It is good know he still cares about you when he doesn't "have to" anymore.

Claire said...

Hope you had a lovely, blessed day.


Tink said...

Happy Birthday! That picture cracked me up. I eats you last!

nicole said...

That's a sweet family you have :)!
Happy belated birthday from me!

Anonymous said...


Keera Ann Fox said...

Happy belated birthday! So does this mean your birthday is actually on the 22nd? My beloved grandma's birthday was on the 22nd.

Dianne said...

95!! That is cool and I love his attitude

I'm sorry I'm 2 days late!! Happy Birthday and Birthday Week. I think you should extend into the weekend :)

Loved the story and so glad you had a happy day.

whatigotsofar said...

I'm sorry you weren't invited to that get together. I wouldn't have felt right inviting people. It wasn't my place to do so. I don't want to be that guy who invites other people to somebody else's party.

Anonymous said...

i'm getting antsy for a spark post... (hint)

on the last award.. thanks YEW!! I am prolly gonna pass on that one as

1. I would Just name the same blawgs as i did for the udder award

2. WHOA.. work!!


luv n stuff

Aurora said...

wow, you are lucky to have your grandparents all alive! maybe they have something to teach about how to live that long!
what a lovely thing that your dad remembered to call!