Thursday, February 02, 2006

Just Be

As I was filling out my timesheet this morning, I realized yesterday would have been Dad's 63rd birthday. The date always caught me unawares; I'd think, oh I have until February, but then January would be gone and February 1st would sucker punch me and I'd scurry for his favorite pistachios and a silly card, when all along I should have been doing something more.

I put an El Camino on a shirt for him once, and the Chevy logo on another. He liked anything he got, but I think the most excited he ever got over one of my gifts (although he seemed to like the El Camino a lot) was when I gave him a money clip from the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a polished thing with a gold
Isle of Man coin from the 1995 Aircraft of WWII collection (I picked the Supermarine Spitfire). He just went gaga over that clip. He did the knee-slap thing I'll never forget, which he only did when he was really excited about something. I do believe he pronounced it "trick." (He did the knee-slap when I showed him the Blackhawk Collection on my computer for the first time, too. His enthusiasm could be so contagious.) He was super excited, too, about the new flat-screen television Morgan and Kelly got him a couple years ago. We managed to remove the old one and install the new while he was napping in his recliner five feet away. It was great when he woke up.

I can't help wondering what I could have found for him this year. I have a habit of trying to outdo myself, forgetting that my family most appreciates the things I paint for them. I painted a '33 Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow (scroll through the Blackhawk Collection- they have one of the three remaining, and it's a breathtaking thing) on a can lid for him once as a Christmas oranament. Come to think of it, he praised that, too.

I think he liked best, though, the simple gift of my company. A decade ago he was glad to have me along at the El Cajon Speedway on a balmy summer night, and five years ago he was glad to have me along in Vegas (remind me and I'll tell you about the crazy weekend he and Morgan and I had when he got stranded with blood-blinded eyes and we drove down to rescue him), and a year ago he was glad to just have me home for a few days. Even if I spent most of the weekend reading to the background drone of his Nascar races or playing violent Nertz with Mom (the louder we got, the louder Fox News got), he was glad to have me there, and that was the most rewarding thing of all: all I had to give to make him happy was me.

I'm going out to buy some pistachios.

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