My Dad and Me (1974)I keep thinking about Dad. Last year, this week, he was in ICU at Henry Ford Hospital because his heart rate was severely high. It was that way because his lungs were in such bad shape that his heart was working overtime. The nurses were being sticklers about the phone because he wasn't in the pulmonary ward since this visit was due to his heart. They wouldn't pass the phone to him...that was the first time ever in my "29" years of life that I didn't get to talk to Dad on my birthday.
You see, we had a tradition. Growing up, Dad would wake up as I was already getting ready for school and sing "Happy Birthday" to me in his wonderful off key way always intensifying the off key part to drive me crazy then he would tell me the story of how he wasn't allowed in the delivery room and the fact that he almost didn't make it to the hospital because he came from work while a neighbor brought my mother to the hospital. He would then tell me that he spent that time getting "Coffee'd and Pepsi'd out" while waiting for his first child to be born.
The song and the story drove me crazy every year but I loved them both none the less. After I moved away to college then lived on my own before I met Grumpy, he would call me. As time went on, the time of day grew a wee bit later in the morning but the call always came. Even after I married Grumpy, the calls always came.
I know that I didn't get the phone call last year so why does it bother me so much this year? Oh, I know why...and that makes it hurt so much more. The story has to be told in my voice now and my Bears will be the ones singing "Happy Birthday" but it won't be like my Dad. It's funny, in this day of video cameras and voice recorders, I never thought to tape him telling the story or any of his stories. I just didn't want to face that he wouldn't be here another year. I've been practicing turning "29" six years now. Maybe I'll get it right this year and I can move on to 30. Who knows...