Well it’s my birthday too, yeah.
Coincidentally, it’s also my paternal grandmother’s birthday.
It crept up on me this year. It was like the grim reaper, hiding in the weeds, laying in waiting, sneaking up to scare the shit out of me.
So after a particularly long week at work, I got to relax last night. And after I got home, I slid into the “it’s my birthday weekend, I’m kind of going to do what I want to” mode. Which entailed me taking it out of the basement, and putting a 3-foot tall photo of Cal Ripken (a recent acquisition from a friend’s garage) walking with the Oriole bird smack in the middle of our family room:
I also promised the chitlins a game of hide and seek before family movie night (a repeat performance of Return of the Jedi, as I prepare them for the release of Episode 7 next month).
I don’t know where in God’s name it came from, but I’ve also grown quite fond of a warm, cozy, Viking hat that I wear around the house every night. And so I wore it last night during hide and seek as well.
As the girls looked for me…and looked…and looked…their mood went from a jovial “Where aaaaare yoooooouuuuu Daddy?” to “Daddy?” to “Daddy this isn’t funny!” to “Daddy we’re scared!” In my dark family room (near the Cal Ripken photo), behind the TV, Viking hat and all, I stood waiting silently for them to approach. Then, much like a Viking grim reaper, I jumped out and scared the crap out of them.
This morning, as I laid in bed with a pillow over my head, my seven year old came in and whispered in my ear, “Daddy, what are three colors you really like?”
“Green, white, and orange,” I muttered. I knew where this was going, so I at least wanted the Ireland flag represented.
About 20 minutes later, she tip-toed back in. “What are three other colors you really like?”
“Purple, yellow, and black,” came my response from beneath the pillow.
And about 30 minutes later, the entire family came back into the room. Breakfast in bed. Two homemade cards from my girls (and homemade cards are simply the best…why do we stop this when we become adults? Hallmark can’t say it better than we can…I say we bring back adult homemade cards!!!) were followed by a little fairy box. “Oh, you know how I LOVE fairy boxes,” I told them.
Inside the box were rainbow loom bracelets (crafted with love over the previous hour) — with the Irish flag and Ravens colors represented on each, respectively.
Getting older may suck. But fatherhood on a birthday weekend is awesome.
I’ll leave you with a little George Carlin. I saw him with my family in Vegas back in the early 200o’s. (Because he’s not what you would call a “family friendly” comic, it was a very funny, yet very awkward, experience). And while he didn’t do this bit at the performance we saw, it is very apropos for birthdays:
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions.
“How old are you?” “I’m four and a half!” You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.
You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead! “How old are you?” “I’m gonna be 16!” You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16!
And then the greatest day of your life – you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21…YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re just a sour-dumpling… What’s wrong? What’s changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.
But! Wait! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE IT TO 60.
You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!
You GET INTO your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; “I WAS JUST 92.”
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. “I’m 100 AND A HALF!”
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half.
Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “…holy shit…what a ride!”