Today is my birthday. I am now 53 years old. My lovely wife gave me a warm hug and kiss this morning and wished me a happy birthday. She went off to one of her two jobs, and once again I was left to my own devices. What to do, what to do.
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday early over my Mum’s house. We played scrabble near the hearth. The wood-burning stove, at times, emitted a semblance of heat. If one strayed too far, a chill was ready to wrap itself around you.
I huddled near the fire.
We played two games, she gave me presents, a bottle of wine, oatmeal raisin cookies, and then I went home. It was nice.
Today as I was puttering around, doing laundry, walking by my laptop with my manuscript staring back at me, doing the dishes, making the bed, passing by my still staring WIP, I had an idea.
Today, I thought, I would visit Dad. I would hoist a drink to him and wish him well. It has been two years and six months since he died. He’s buried in multiple places; ashes here, ashes there.
Before I took off, though, there was a rap at my door. It was Mum, cradling a present in one hand. It was from my brother Joe. I opened it and it was a 750 ml bottle of Grand Marnier. Perfect! I knew then that I would gently put it in my rucksack and bring it to my Dad’s site.
I rode my bike to one of his favorite haunts, near a pond where herons roost. Some of his ashes were strewn there. It was chilly, still in the teens, but not terribly unpleasant.
I also brought two homemade chocolate chip cookies, baked by my thoughtful sister, Hansie, who had mailed them from Maine. That was very nice of her. The cookies are really tasty.
I placed one cookie on a pile of ‘skimmers’ that I brought along. I thought Dad might be hungry. I poured a shot of the orange liqueur and held it up to the swamp. “Cheers, Pops!” I said, and drank it straight down. I poured another and set it on a rock.
There was no one around. A soft wind swept over the thin ice. Near the edge, cattails and common reed grass swayed gracefully in the slight brumal breeze. Only the trickle of water from a beaver dam could be heard. It was soothing.
For some reason a few of my photos came out blurry. Perhaps the lens fogged over from the cold. But it was still nice to take a few pics of this wetland at winter. It added an atmospheric touch, I think.
Come spring I’ll have to repair the plaque I placed there in his honor. If Dad doesn’t take the cookie, I’m sure some swamp animal will gladly nibble it for sustenance.
So far, it has been a good birthday. My Beloved came home earlier than expected, laden with gifts; a bakery box with decadent delights within, and another box that contained a calming vanilla-scented soy candle. They came with a lovely card, and another welcoming birthday kiss.
We sat on the couch, layered in blankets. I was blessed by her presence, and by the lovely presents bestowed on me.
We are to get walloped with snow tonight. I’m glad I stopped by to say hi to Dad. The skimmer rocks will get covered, and maybe the cookie, too, but that’s ok. Winter will cloak the wetland, and in the stillness of snowfall Dad will have been warmed by my visit.
I miss having a glass of wine with him. Tonight I will toast him with a glass of Malbec and wish him comfort, wherever he may reside.
Take care, Pops. I love you.