There’s something to be said for planning your entire evening around making that important phone call to your father on the opposite side of the world, whom I might add you’ve not spoken to in oh probably over a month (not entirely your own fault), to wish him happy birthday, and to time it just right so it is not too ungodly an early hour to awaken him from slumber yet not too late that he’s out of the house. Never mind also trying to squeeze yourself in among the many calls coming in from all the grandkids and friends the world over. Would you believe that as he ages, it’s actually getting harder to pin him down?!
So perhaps I ought not to have been all that surprised at the outcome of my call to him less than 12 hours ago:
(phone picks up… this is not a verbatim transcription, but close enough)
Me: Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to you, I hope I didn’t wake you, Happy Birthday to you!
Dan: Hi AJ. no no, we’re awake… I was just thinking about you.
Me: Big day huh? I can’t believe you’re turning eighty! How does it feel…?
Dan: I don’t feel eighty. I was a little upset awhile ago thinking about the number but I don’t feel it.
Me: Yes, I was thinking this morning that, even with the aches and pains you have in your legs, you got lucky cuz you have super genes.. I hope I got your genes in the health department.
Dan: Yes, that’s true..
(Phone rings in the background, Mom picks up: yes, but he’s busy cuz he’s on the phone with AJ from Bali)
Me: So tell me, how was your party? I tried to call that night but the line was constantly busy.
Dan: Yes, I had to change the answering machine and didn’t really know how it works, so sorry about that…
Me: So tell me about the party, how did it go?
Dan: Well, ummm… I’m going to write you all the details about it in an email today.
Me: Ok, but… can you tell me about it now because we haven’t talked in a long time..
Dan: Um… well (a few minutes of description of food, drink, guests, grandchildren visiting from out of town, comedienne and then…) but I’ll write you all about it soon. Oh AJ.. it’s late for you already not?
Me: Not really… What are you planning to do today?
Dan: Well, oh.. my phone is going to die any minute…
Me: What do you mean? I called you on the house line not your cell phone?
Dan: Yes, but the phone I’m on isn’t fully charged.
Me: So can you change phones?
Dan: Well.. I need to leave to the dentist and then.. (voice trails off)
Me: Oh, ok then… have a great birthday, talk to you soon. Love you.
And so ends the phone call.
I unhook the earbud, lie back on my bed and look outs at the stars.
Had it been his 50th birthday, I might have felt blown off. But lordy lordy, he turned 80. I need to give him some slack. Moreover, we’re very close and I know he loves me so I don’t ever take it as a personal affront. More than anything, it makes me smile at the wonder of it…
And anyways, may he continue to be so hard to pin down, travel ad nauseum (to visit grandchildren and cousins living in far-flung countries, for graduations, weddings and soccer games), keep working (which to him is, often, play because he loves it so much) and tell me that he really doesn’t have much time to talk because oh, even if it’s only 8:30 in the morning he’s already on his way out the door for a meeting.
My dad doesn’t need to sip from the Fountain of Youth. He’s drunk from it already.
Blessings to you Sababoo.