Finding my father an appropriate birthday card to go with the his gift is a challenging task, especially knowing the perfectly phrased sentiment matters to him. My dad is a writer after all.
This year was no different. I gave up my search for the perfect birthday greeting after just three stores and, instead, signed personal wishes with a Sharpie pen right on the wrapping paper.
Tonight was my father’s birthday party, and, par for the course, he hosted his own celebratory gathering, making the dinner and providing the entertainment.
Growing up, my father broke many of the traditional male gender roles, especially when you consider I grew up in the seventies; he purchased our groceries, made our meals, and, shared child rearing equally with my mom. My father has never followed traditional father or grandfather roles, less to make a point, and more because he believes in living an authentic life, “Do what you love.”
Here is what I mean:
Yesterday my sister sent me a video from their backyard. It shows my niece screaming down the inaugural run of their new backyard roller coaster built by my eighth grade nephew and my dad. Yes, an actually rollercoaster! My nephew loves designing runs; he is the future Rube Goldburg, so when my nephew announced he wanted to design a roller coaster down their sloping backyard, my dad was all in, even buying my nephew a circular saw for his birthday, a “believe the box” present.
Tonight, once we finished dinner and the dishes had been cleared, my dad left to go grab his guitar. He had been practicing a couple of new cover songs and wanted to perform them for us. This was our gift to him, he said. He took a seat near the oval dinner table where we gathered, placed the guitar strap over his shoulder, and began to strum away. The first song, “Lola” by the Kinks was followed by Led Zeppelin’s “Street Corner Girl.” We sang with him and cheered at the end. And then I thought to myself, this is how all birthday parties should end, with two slightly inappropriate songs sung by your dad. I’m sure there are others out there who have parents who get the Led out, too, but considering my parents are well into their seventies, and still getting the Led out is pretty darn cool. They have it going on; they continue to live a true authentic life, one that is filled with passion and love.