If we were sitting in Dublin drinking a pint I’d wish you a Happy 76th birthday and ask you to remind me how we’re related to the Briscoes because the Irish will want to know and let’s face it, there aren’t many Irish Jews.
But we’re not in Dublin, I am in Dallas and you’re somewhere else. Your body is in California and your neshama is elsewhere or so you once taught me.
So technically you’re 76th birthday isn’t quite here and I am too far away to drop by the house and keep mom company which is to say, we’re even.
Because let’s face it dad, you used to tell me I could never make up all the sleep I cost you and now you have created a situation where we are not only even, you might even owe me.
But I can’t collect on that particular debt, now can I.
Been doing a little family genealogy and looking at some old photos and discovering in some cases I know as much if not more than any one else.
Got to tell you Dad that it throws me a bit because I don’t feel old enough to be the authority but the benefit of being the oldest son is I have been around for a while.
Long enough to have more than a few memories of my great grandparents and to remember my grandparents in their early sixties, if not slightly younger.
It was a strange realization because I realize how young they were and how young that meant you were.
Sometimes your grandchildren look at my old baseball pictures and shake their heads when they realize you were one of the coaches, but not as much as I do when I see you in your thirties.
Not because it is hard to remember you like that because it is easy, but you always seemed so much older to me.
Yet when I see shots of you at 38 and realize at 50 I am more than a decade older than you were then.
How did that happen?
How did we get to this place where so many of these memories are more than 40 years old, it may be the bulk of my life, but not the entirety.
How did we get to this place where we are celebrating the second birthday you aren’t present for.
Mom has always talked about how shy you were on your wedding day and how you didn’t want to walk down the aisle because you didn’t want that kind of attention.
But we never expected you to be shy with us.
It is not like I don’t get it. You checked out just before your birthday so of course it was easier for this second birthday to sneak up upon us even though you technically haven’t been gone for two years.
When I went back to LA for unveiling your stone I wandered into the kitchen and found everything where it was the last time I had been there.
You weren’t around with your crazy Virgo need to organize and reorganize. There weren’t new labels or projects.
So I stood in the garage, opened the tool chest and inhaled and could almost feel you there.
Drove into the city and by our old neighborhood as well as some places you had said you lived in during high school.
Tooled around Santa Monica and had some guy tell me about LA. Don’t remember how it came up or why but smiled when he told me he had lived there for 10 years and knew all about it.
Eventually he asked me when my first trip to Los Angeles was and said May of ’69.
That confused him but I didn’t say anything because everyone was ready to roll and so was I, but I thought about going to the Pier with you and grandpa.
I might have been five or maybe I was seven.
People volunteer thoughts and ideas about where you are and aren’t now.
Some tell me you are gone forever and that there is no afterlife and others tell me you are around in a different form.
I go back and forth about it.
I am comfortable with both ideas, that you are simply gone and that you’re in the world to come. I don’t require a definitive answer and won’t behave differently because I feel one way or another.
But I am curious.
I still read like crazy and some of the fantasy and science fiction occasionally makes me dream that you are living on some lonely island or undiscovered continent and that if I have the will I can get to you.
Just need a little gumption and a willingness to engage in an adventure and I can find you again.
That would be kind of cool and one hell of a story.
But if I can’t get to you because when we take our final breath it is all over or because mortals don’t hold the E-ticket that let’s us in to the next joint it is cool.
Like I said, I really am cool with it but I have a curious enough nature to want to know for no reason other than just because.
I had to provide an interesting story about myself the other day and I told a story about the painter with one leg and how his false one fell off while he was standing on the ladder.
Told the guy about how a little boy with really curly hair picked up the leg and gave it back to the painter.
Too bad you didn’t catch that on Super 8 because it might have been the kind of film that wins awards– wouldn’t mind getting an extra $10k or whatever.
Got to run n0w dad, I keep thinking about talking with you about a million things. Keep thinking ab0out the clip below. Maybe we’ll watch it together again one day, maybe not.
Happy Early Birthday Dad.