A Birthday Present


My sisters and I had a hard time buying a birthday present for my dad, whose birthday is today. If he’d lived this long, he’d be 94, but he died at 60. Sixty seems young to me now.

Dad’s birthday was just three weeks before Christmas, so the three of us usually huddled together sometimes right after Thanksgiving and discussed.

A pair of black socks? A tie? Some white handkerchiefs? A jar of sourballs? We were too young to buy him a carton of Kents or a case of ‘Gansett.

One year, I had exactly one dollar to buy Christmas gifts for my mom, my dad, my older sister, and my baby sister (I think I was six). I can’t remember what my sisters received from me that year, but I do recall finding a box of paper clips for Dad (and that was something he could really use), and some lace trimming for Mom (again, she could sew that lace on anything and make it prettier). Those two presents probably took half of the dollar, but I was very proud of myself.

Through my teens, I gave my father (and my mother) way more grief than my sisters did. Let me rephrase that: my sisters didn’t cause trouble. I did, enough for all three of us. Maybe that’s how it is with children; there’s always one. I’ve wished so many times over the past thirty-three years that my father could see that I turned out okay (after a few rough patches), that I married a good man, that I had some wonderful professional accomplishments before ending my career and starting something new, something I love doing. That even though he was present in my life for a mere twenty years, he got it right.

Then again, I’m sure he knows.

8 thoughts on “A Birthday Present

  1. Lovely post, Martha. The spirits of our fathers are always with us. (With my dad, it was Winstons and ‘Gansetts.) Your dad would be very proud of you and your writing and, especially, this piece, which I’m sure he would have read over and over again. Yes, he did get it right.


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