happy birthday

December 11, 2007


On the way to work this morning, I found myself thinking about my dad. Tom and I were listening to Tamara Jenkins, writer and director of the new film “The Savages” being interviewed on “Fresh Air” with Terri Gross. She was sharing an insightful, poignant, witty, and very real account of the relationship between her and her father during his last days. Although it was an enjoyable interview, it brought up some very powerful emotions regarding my own similar experiences.

As Tom and I barreled down the the 118, heading for our respective offices, the mood was one of wistful introspection. Then a lightening bold hit me.

Today is December 11th, it would have been my dad’s 80th birthday!

Once I reconciled with that bit of irony, something else began to happen. The sad and troubling thoughts swirling around my head, gave way to a flood of happier and more endearing memories of my dad.

I began to recall things like the big, infectious, toothy grin that would light up his face, as he told one of his signature, corny jokes for the 45th time.

I remembered, being 5 years old, and him throwing my sisters and I over his shoulder, calling us sacks of potatoes, then tossing us, sending us flying through the air and onto our beds, squealing with laughter and begging him to “do it again, do it again!” He knew we were conspiring to avoid lights out, but he would indulge us a few more times anyway.

He was an endless source of drawing paper, or tablets as he called them. He’d bring them home from work for myself and my sisters. We’d fill them up with “kid art” as fast as he could bring them. At 14, I discovered in myself, a natural artistic ability when he bestowed upon me some old oil paints, a pallette and some “how-to” books, he had dabbled with years before.

My dad had a penchant for tall tales, or at least they seemed tall. My sisters and I would roll our eyes as he told us of his exploits, like how he pitched for the Pittsburg Pirates. After snickering in our sleeves for years about this, we found out from some friends of his, that he had, in fact, (and I’m a little hazy on the details here) played for a short time with a semi-pro team called the Pirates. So, there you go. Truth or tall tale? You decide.

He seemed to have a casual relationship with the facts. He really kept up on our toes.

Dad was an avid bowler and even bowled a perfect game once. This I know to be true because he had a trophy and a “300” lapel pin to prove it. Although, I also recall his losing the pin on a plane trip from L.A. to Pennsylvania, and how he almost lost his mind trying to find it. I don’t think he ever did find it (his pin that is.)

Having a passion for bowling, he also had a dream of publishing a bowling magazine called “Strikes and Spares”. In fact he actually got a couple of issues printed early on. But for one reason or another, the magazine idea never really got off the ground. That didn’t stop him from revisiting it from time to time and he never stopped dreaming of making it happen.

He and I had discussed his getting a MAC and giving it another whirl ala desktop publishing. Sadly, we hadn’t realized, as we were discussing it, that time had finally run out on that dream.

So five years ago, I made him a promise. I promised him I’d pick up the gauntlet and make my dream come true. And although a bowling magazine isn’t exactly my dream, I do have one of my own, and I am determined to make it happen. I have to. I promised.

And, I’m pretty sure he heard me.

9 Responses to “happy birthday”

  1. littlesketches Says:

    🙂 Your father seemed to have great insight into your artistic abilities since you were a child. That is a very sweet and wonderful thing… So, Linda, on behalf of all the people on your blogroll, I would like to say, we’re all going to make sure that you keep your promise to your father! 🙂 (I’m keeping my fingers crossed here that everyone agrees… so, please do!)

  2. Trisha Says:

    Dear God, that was beautiful. Great job of reinacting our childhood for just a moment of our Dad. I’m cryin like an fool here at work. You will keep your promise to Dad Linda. You’re living it now. I’m sure he’s watching you and is so proud. Thank you.

  3. Alexis Says:

    What a wonderful glimpse of who your dad was through your eyes. Thanks so much for providing me (us) with that little jaunt.

    Your pop would be so proud of you and the world is waiting.

  4. You have a gift with words Linda… this is very beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Your dad sounds like a wonderful loving person… I’m sure you will accomplish your promise. :o)

  5. sketched out Says:

    Thank you all so much for your kind comments on this post. I felt a little vulnerable posting something so personal, but the warmth I’ve felt from the feedback makes it all worthwhile.

  6. Nancy Lefko Says:

    My goodness Linda, your dad sounds so much like mine….right down to the smile that could light up a room, throwing me and my sister onto our beds or better yet, chasing my sister around the house with me on his shoulders (I’d have to remember to duck when we got to the doorways….I can remember my mother yelling at him that we’d get hurt….but we LOVED it !!)…he also told jokes and the same stories over and over but I found that the older I got the more I could listen to and enjoy the same story again and again. He also called writing pads “tablets” and bought them for my boys all the time. I lost my dad almost 4 years ago and I still miss him every day. Funny, I purposefully use the same soap he did at his house, at my studio art sink, because the scent reminds me of being there with him. Silly. Thanks for sharing such beautiful memories. And the photo collage is just wonderful.

  7. sketched out Says:

    Wow Nancy, the similarities just made the hair on my arms stand up, and your story has me fighting back tears, as I sit here at work.

    I know what you mean about the soap, I carry my dad’s lighter around with me, although I don’t use it. It just rattles around in my purse and makes me smile every time I run across it.

    Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful stories with me.

  8. Vicki Says:

    Happy Birthday Jonnie!

  9. elizabeth Says:

    Just discovered your blog and have been enjoying all your artwork. You have great talent! I felt compelled to comment here because our Dads share a birthday. Thanks for sharing these memories, and keep drawing!! Good luck.

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