Yesterday was my father's birthday. Being the humble soul that he is, he is mightily uncomfortable (yet pleased) when people make a fuss over him. His birthday falls a week after the birthday/anniversary bash that seems to happen every year when Z-boy advances in age, so he's even more reluctant to take up people's weekends just a scant seven days after the last to do.
A few years ago, my brothers and I hit upon a solution that is comfortable for all of us. Whoever is available on Dad's birthday takes him out to lunch. We all work some pretty strange jobs and hours, so there's no guilt attached to not being able to attend a weekday luncheon. If you can't make it, you phone in your good wishes and maybe send a card and that's that.
This year was a lot of fun... Brother Andy from Atlanta drove down a couple of days before with a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy (8 months old) that needed a new home. Since we'd had shepherds most of our growing up years, Andy knew the parents would love this one. And they do. As an added bonus, Andy was available to come to lunch this year.
Matt took a little extra lunch time from the "Nexus of Evil", Jerry was a bit late, having to tow someone from Monticello an hour before lunch, and Darling Man made it as well. Including my dad, I got to have lunch with some of my favorite male people on earth.
We met at the University's golf course restaurant (the 19th Hole), filling one of the bigger tables - making lots of noise and laughing. It took the wait staff 15 minutes to notice that we were there! Matt finally got up (because he really did have to get back sometime that afternoon) and corralled one of the waitresses to come take our orders.
It was a bit odd - I usually have lunch there with my cousin on a regular basis and someone is attending to you immediately upon crossing the threshold - usually.
Anyway, the waitress was taking our orders (sweet iced tea and some form of burger for everyone) and my father kept looking at her face. My brothers paid close attention as well because her shorts couldn't get any shorter without warranting an arrest.
When she headed back to the kitchen with our orders, my father turned to the table and said, "That was odd."
"What?" replied several voices.
"Her face was... orange." (those of you old enough to remember QT might have an idea here)
Andy looked at him and said, "She had a face?"
Oh, yeah. Guys.
Andy regaled us with stories of being a cop in Atlanta. He really should write a book - or do a standup act like Larry the Cable Guy - only he'd be Andy the Cop. His delivery is dead on and the stories are sad, yet funny at the same time.
I brought a card and a gift. I wrapped it at work, drawing smile-y faces all over a piece of legal copy paper with different colored highlighters. Dad opened it and thanked me with a huge grin. My brothers were mystified. The gift? A bottle of shower gel. But not just any shower gel - PEARS shower gel. After the requisite soap jokes, Dad explained.
PEARS soap had a very special place in my dad's childhood. He was a child of WWII in England and everything was rationed - including soap. What he used to clean himself on a daily basis was this rough lye soap that was the equivalent of today's bargain basement soap. Gets the job done, but isn't necessarily pleasant to use. But for very special occasions, he was allowed to bathe with PEARS, which is a clear, amber, glycerin soap that smells lovely.
When I visited Granny Wales in 1972 and again in 1980, I remember using PEARS soap. I always associated it with England and Wales, having never seen it here in the states. Imagine my surprise when turning the aisle in Walgreens and finding a whole shelf of PEARS!!! There was bath gelee, shower gel and liquid handsoap. But no bars. To make sure, I took the lid off and sniffed. Yup. It was PEARS alright. And immediately, I knew that I'd found Dad's birthday present.
Dad got a little choked up when lunch was over. He thanked us for coming, for making him feel loved. He said that a friend of his had told him that a man had succeeded as a father if his children still came around after they'd grown up - because they wanted to, not because they had to.
My dad is a successful father.
Happy birthday, Dad! We all love you very much.