Happy Birthday, Dad



From Left to Right –  Rose, Elias, Paul

August 5th, 2016


Hope these are well and the summer isn’t too hot in Tennessee. The weather in Belgium fluctuates all the time. One host told me that it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day. Today it’s rainy, a bit chilly. Grey clouds, a still mist, the sound of cars creating waves over the sheets of rainwater on the roadways. Something about the weather made me think I was in Buffalo for a moment.

Yesterday I was biking to Gent, a city that perfects the pairing of young people and old buildings. Between cities, as the sun was setting, the crickets orchestrated that the warm midday air be flushed out with air of cold speckles crystal. The chilly winds brought me back to being a kid visiting Buffalo in December. Memories came back to me of piling into a car with all our luggage, driving from the airport, stopping at the gas station, the smell of gasoline exhaust lingering by the car in a strangely comforting, now nostalgic, fragrance. Us kids sat in the back. Gripped in my hands was a purple Gameboy, Paul occasionally leaning over to watch every time I gasped in excitement. Rose, scrunched either bored or sleeping against the right-side window. In her hands her blanket and a backpack that peeled at the seems. Her feet pressed against the passenger seat or against my knees–insinuated a challenge for backseat combat.

           In those memories you held the wheel and directed the car across the countryside. Sometimes you did not fly with us on the plane, but arrived at the lobby to pick us up from the airport. Already you had purchased donuts, oh man, especially the peanut covered ones, placed in a bag, perhaps purposely you laid them on the center console for us to entertain the idea of eating one, or two, or all of them. After a moment without movement from us kids, without even a word, you snatched the donuts and held the bag out for us to partake. Sheepishly, we would always stare at the donuts, in a way that implies an invisible wall between our health consciousness and our young minds teeming with a wish for exhilaration in the form of refined white goodness. You would look back, without a word, and raise your eyebrows. Hinting, “I know you want them. So go ahead and eat them!”

         Paul would be the first, often, or maybe Rose. Our tired, December nipped faces would warm into a round smile and on our first bite, we grinned gitty from the exciting insurgence of sugar. Into our bodies, into our souls I’m sure mom sighed in complaint of having to deal with three hyped-up children. Talkative we became, then aggressive, and once wearied down, we slept for the rest of the trip. An hour goes by, it’s sundown now, for some reason we always got home by ten o’clock. Avoiding icicles and ice-slick steps, we carried our luggage into a carpeted log stacked house. Warm again, pizza and pie in the fridge. A tree already set in the center of the house.  So happy, so filled, so content I was on Buffalo Decembers.

I wanted to share this warm memory with you, because I never know if people realize the impact of their generous nature.  Despite your boisterous nature, your thoughtfulness is rather quiet and difficult to understand sometimes.  Even quieter is your ability to know what people are needing or wanting–be it a donut or be it something on someone’s mind.  You know.  Every gesture is appreciated, for the kid in me and the adult in me.

Happy birthday Dad.



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