Tag Archives: birthday

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

Birthday Boy…

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Cameron

I first met my stepson when he was just 10 years old. I was at a friend’s house, in the town where I grew up. His mother was stopping by to pick him up. Cam was playing with my friend’s son, so this would also be the first time I met Cam’s mom.

A young Cam

A young Cam

When she arrived and rounded the kitchen corner, how can one not have become instantly spellbound? I beheld a most exquisite, beautiful, intoxicating woman, and I was transfixed. Alluring, delightful, humorous…and those eyes. I was held captive under her gaze.

Mesmerizing...

Mesmerizing…

But this is about my stepson. And his 21st birthday. He is no longer the birthday boy, but a man. And in those subsequent 11 years, since his mom and I forged a union, I have seen this young man in various stages of his life. My only regret is that he is not my own son. How I would have delighted in seeing this man as a young child, to hold him, to experience his wonder and exuberance, to teach him sundry things about the world.

For his 21st birthday, I made a collage of him, photos taken from a young age, to the present. I hope that as he peers at these images they bring back fond memories, of each of those years and moments in time.

collage-001Now, come this fall, he will begin his senior year at Worcester State College. He has made Dean’s List every semester. His last report card was straight A’s. He is one smart, funny, intelligent, very humorous fellow, and I love him as though he were my own son.

And those eyes. He possesses the same fantastical, incredibly beautiful eyes like his mom, arresting orbs that can hold folk spellbound. (And his brother, eight years younger, has the same stunning countenance.)

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Jace

Cam is now a man. For his 21st birthday, he traveled to Beantown, to partake in a pub crawl with friends. He returned, not sure of what establishments he partook, but at least he made it home safe and sound.

My stepson is now a man, and I wish him nothing more than much happiness, good health, and laughter wherever his life may lead. Along the way to adulthood, there have been a few bumps and potholes, but with age comes maturity, and he has displayed that to a remarkable degree.

He has seen quite a lot in his brief time upon this planet, and through such trying times he has prevailed; stoic, quiet, strong, even-keeled, and present, to all who have needed help and his love and support. He is truly a one-of-a-kind human being, and I am a lucky man to be the stepfather to this remarkable, stable, stalwart man.

May your travels and adventures take you far and wide and varied, Cam, in good health, safety, and with much laughter.

I love you and wish you nothing more than peace and prosperity wherever you go. And you will go far. I have no doubt.

You truly are a wonderful stepson.

Happy birthday.

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Copyright, Paul Grignon-2014– All rights reserved.

A Cookie for Pops…

Heron's RoostToday 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.

Cookie & LiqueurBefore 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.

Winter ShadowsThere 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.

Brumal BlurI stayed for a bit, drank the second shot, packed up, and bid goodbye to Pops. The swamp rumbled beneath the ice. I thought it was Dad, wishing me a happy birthday.

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.

Honoring PopsSo 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.