Birthdays with Daddy and the Mommies Behind Them

As a young girl, I remember my mother sewing me a special dress of flowered cotton just before my big day. She braided my long hair of dark blonde before tying ribbons to match near the bottom of each. Then a kiss on my pink cheek. Both, I think.

Ding-dong, the front doorbell rang. Mother made a huge production of who might be standing behind the honey colored, wooden door. I remember getting so excited until I jumped up and down in my patent leather, May Jane shoes. The bell rang again. Slowly, Mother opened the door. I clapped my hands. “Open it, open it,” I begged! My heart skipped a beat. Slowly, Mother turned the shiny brass of the round knob to open the door. It squeaked and swung inside to the right. It was Daddy! Daddy stood behind the honey colored, wooden door

I remember my father being all dressed up in his very best suit and tie, probably his only suit and tie. I was four or five years old at the time, with love spilling out of every pore. He smiled before coming inside. Within the two of his hands, he held a white box, the kind I had never seen before. Handing it to me, Mother helped the two of us open it. Inside was a corsage made of a single pink carnation accented with a beautiful satin bow. If I close my eyes tight, I can smell the sweet scent of it even now. Mother helped Daddy pin the corsage on my pretty new dress. I remember the pin was long and silver. At the end, it had a beautiful pearl of white. Seconds later, I learned my daddy was taking me on a date, just the two of us!

This soon became a birthday tradition for me. For several years, I pretended to be surprised when the doorbell rang at the sight of my father just before dinnertime. Every year he carried a flower corsage and fumbled with his fingers when he tried to pin it to my new dress. Mother rescued him from the shadows each and every year. My father was ever the gentleman, opening the car door for me, taking my arm when we went into a restaurant and helping to pick out magic music on the jukebox. I remember dancing atop his shoes in ruffled stockings on my feet……Afterward, we went to the famous Bay City, City Dairy where we gobbled hot fudge sundaes while sitting on red stools at their Formica counter.

In looking back those were treasured birthdays for me. Traditions created by my mother, no doubt. Oddly enough, I didn’t think of them yesterday which was my birthday. No, the memories flooded me today. Why? Because it’s my mother’s birthday. I’ve been thinking of her all day long. How selfless she was! It was always about my birthday, never about hers which fell the very next day. I suppose this is what all mother’s do.

Happy 80th Birthday, Mother. Thank you for who you were, for all you gave to me and others, and for the memories held deep within my heart. I love you yesterday, today and tomorrow.

pink corsage


Little Gifts…Soooo Big!

Over the weekend a milestone for my eldest son!  A B.I.G. birthday was celebrated last Saturday. Asking him what he’d like to do, his wish was to share some fun with his family. A dinner at his favorite restaurant followed by a game of bowling. “Bowling, with a one and a three-year-old,” I wondered? “We’ll see…”

Our first stop was a festive Mexican restaurant where traditional décor and costumes hung from the walls. Warm tortilla chips together with red salsa were devoured before ceramic plates floated aloft in dazzling colors. Turquoise blue, yellow to match the sun, avocado green, and a bright orange, reminding me of freshly squeezed juice. Each spilled with a variety of tacos and tamales, steak fajitas, or cheese quesadillas for my grand-babies to eat.

Digging in, our taste buds were treated to zesty spices when suddenly the sound of music sang throughout the room! Three or four employees, dressed in full Mexican regalia strolled towards our table, strumming their guitars while singing Happy Birthday in Spanish. Giant velvet sombreros trimmed in glittered silver tipped atop their heads. My grandchildren were startled at such a sight, yet enthralled with delight. Soon Daddy wore a matching sombrero of his own!

Before long, we were at the bowling alley, trying to find shoes small enough to fit the little princess child. My baby grandson was given a pass, allowed to wear the two already on his feet. Finding a bowling ball light enough to share with my grand-daughter was not easy. Yet, in the distance, my eye caught sight of a starry blue ball resting on silver a tube of shelving. Picking it up, I discovered it weighed a mere six pounds. Perfect!

Helping Princess to the starting gate, she sat on the floor eager to push the ball down the lane. Bzzzzz…….A loud buzzer signaled we crossed the foul line. Scooting backward, she shoved the round ball of big with all her might. S.l.o.w.l.y….it lollygagged to the end of the polished lane, knocking one pin to the floor. With arms and legs stretched up into the air, my grand-daughter jumped up and down with glee!

Next, holding elfin hands within his own, my eldest one led his first-born son to the same spot I had just been. Bending down, the two pushed and spun the ball. It rolled and rolled and rolled, bouncing bumpers of brown along the way. Finally, it jarred pins of white until they jiggled and wiggled. Two or three fell down, making a loud sound. PLOP! A pacifier popped out of my grandson’s mouth. All eyes were upon him. There he sat, clapping wee hands awash in baby pride.  “Dey go down, dey go down, Daaa-Dee!”

Little gifts-Soooo big!



Trust.  It seems inbred in the hearts and minds of little children whenever together with animals.  There is an unspoken bond of trust between them, triggered by instinct.  I take great delight in observing it, finding it nearly palpable.  Love and laughter, sharing, caring and trust.

Back in May of this year, my only grandson celebrated his first birthday during an outdoor party complete with a petting zoo.  His great-grandfather was able to join the celebration, traveling all the way from Arizona to make it extra special.  In an earlier post I wrote of the anticipation of such entitled, “Dads With Little Lambs.”  How lucky we were to have it land on a glorious spring day!  Blue skies matched the color of gemstones while a breeze gently puffed cool air through new born leaves dangling from ancient limbs of oak trees.

There was no ‘white picket fence’ surrounding baby animals that day.  Instead, children were allowed to chase chickens freely.  Chubby fingers touched new textures, repeating names of four-legged friends they had only met before in picture books or pieced together in chunky puzzle boards of primary colors.   Each child took turns petting spotted calves groaning, “M.O.O.” before skinny legs dressed in ruffles or blue jeans swung over saddles to take their very first pony rides.

Afterwards, the guest of honor was stripped naked, except for a diaper that seemed to match his new friend of black and white spots.  My grandson soon sat grinning on a huge sheet of plastic red.  It rippled and crinkled whenever he moved.  He loved the feel of it, I could tell!  Within seconds, a farm decorated Smash Cake , complete with miniature bright red barn appeared before his two enormous blue-watered eyes.  Murmurs traveled among those who sat on benches of wood behind picnic tables of green.  What would the birthday boy do?  Stick his finger to taste a treat of brown bunny frosting?  Or snatch and seize the biggest field of golden-colored corn he’d ever seen?

In the end, the big-little guy couldn’t contain himself.  He dove right in.  Head-first!  Exactly what his new animal friends had whispered silently to him minutes before.  “Go for it,” they had said, as only animal friends can do.   And so he did.


Dads With Little Lambs

In only a couple of weeks, days really, my father will visit from Arizona.  It will be the first chance that he’s had to meet four new great-grand-babies.  Four!  What will he say to faces smiling up at him so new and bright?  How will he feel rocking babes to sleep at night?

There are periods I long for my father’s presence.  Times when I wish he lived closer in order to pop in unexpectedly with my grand-girls.  The oldest at three, might show him her latest trick learned at gymnastics class.  Perhaps she’d stir invisible tea in a pink plastic cup or read books from her imagination?  A younger toddler would reach for him with both arms, begging to be picked up while baby twins would giggle and smile.  But, only for a while…..

My father will be here to celebrate his only great-grandson’s first birthday.  My son and daughter-in-law are having a small, barn-themed children’s party with a petting zoo.  Nothing big… a few baby animals.  Pink piglets with yellow fluffy chicks behind a fence of white.  Although, I do think there may be a woolly lamb that kids can actually touch with anxious little hands.

Recently, I told my father about his great-grandson’s birthday party while we chatted over the phone.  “Petting Zoo?” he stumbled, never having heard the term before.

It’s the little things I miss about having my dad so near.  It took me at least five minutes to explain the definition of a Petting Zoo.  And, just when I thought he understood, jokes came jostling over the line.  My dad has a very dry sense of humor.   Oftentimes, only his grown children can begin to understand it!

Below is an example of the conversation that followed.

“Wait a minute,” Dad said.  “A ‘Petting Zoo?  I don’t get it.  Will the kids be riding the lamb?”

“No, Dad,” None of the kids will be riding the lamb.

“Is there a small saddle, just in case?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered, chuckling. 

Sigh.  “Then, what does the lamb do?

“Nothing, Dad.  It’s for children to pet,” I answered, firmly. 

“Pet?”  What good is that?”

“Kids love animals, Dad.  They like to pet them.”

“They do?” he asked, as if he didn’t know.

“Yes, Dad.  I’ve got to go.”

“Okay, Honey.  Sure am looking forward to seeing you!  Hey, don’t worry about the saddle.  They’ve got them all over Phoenix.  I’ll ask around and bring one that will fit that little lamb, just right.”

“Okay, Dad, you do that.  Love you.”

“Love you too, Honey.  See you soon!”

*As my oldest grand-daughter would say, “Silly Great-Grandpa!”



Happy Birthday

Everyone knows this is the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus: December 25.  When I was a child, my father taught me to sing a song of joy.  Happy Birthday, Jesus.  It was and is the most important birthday celebration of all.

For just one moment, maybe a minute or more I’d like to say, “Happy Birthday” to my father too.  I love you, Dad, and wish you many, many more.


Double Celebation

It seems the holiday train has already left the station and is moving fast upon its tracks.  If I listen very closely, I can hear the whistle blow softly in the distance.  Lofty, grey steam swirls up toward heaven, rising from the engine’s shiny red smokestack.  There is no stopping it now, so I must hop aboard.  I will decorate our tree today with dancing antique ornaments and loose white popcorn on a string.  Assorted needlepoint stockings in red, blue and green, will hang from the fireplace mantel.  Drooping from above will be twisted evergreen boughs going every which way.  Their scent will soon fill my rooms with the freshest bouquet, reminding me of my home town in Michigan near the bay.