Hippy Freak Birthday Boy

Today is my father's birthday, and while I don't encourage him to read this (by pretending it doesn't exist)...and if he does read this, hi dad, and happy birthday, and please ignore anything I might write about boys and sex, because it's just the internet and none of that stuff is actually true, because I'm still a virgin...I am still going to write a little tribute to him, because even if he never does read it, people should know that there are parents who don't totally screw up their kids. I blame my mom for any screwing up that was done. (Mom, if you somehow found this, that part wasn't true, either. It's ok to lie and make up stuff on the internet).

When my father met my mother, he was exactly the kind of guy her parents wouldn't even think to warn her about, because he was so outside their realm of existence. He was a hippy, pot smoking musician. I'm sure he had no intention of becoming an upstanding citizen who worked for the Man, but that's exactly what he found himself doing after he whisked his woman to a mountain top in Arizona to get hitched. Along came my sister, who was a very sick kid. A fact we all often forget because she is now the healthiest human on the planet.

Yet, there they were, this young couple with a baby who was in and out of the hospital at least a dozen times before her first birthday. Then I came along. It's no big surprise that the marriage didn't last much longer than my arrival.

Basically, this left dad with a decision to make. He could go back to his party boy ways, being a weekend/holiday dad, or he could be more involved in our lives while still leaving us with our mom. The problem was that our mom was unstable. She suffers from depression, and in the era before mood stabilizing meds and proper diagnosis, she just functioned as well as she could, occasionally becoming a complete basket case. These were not options my father could live with, and he instead decided that he would try to get custody. He had his parents and sister who all lived pretty close by, and they would help out with us when he was working. He hoped my mother would be willing to accept the situation enough to still be an intricate part in raising us, but suspected that if he did get custody, there would be a slim chance of that, at least for a while. He turned out to be right, and when he won in court, mom pretty much had a complete nervous breakdown, and took off to Florida. She didn't stay there for too long..long enough to give us an excuse to travel down there and go to Disney World for the first time, so that was pretty cool.

Meanwhile, Dad was a working Mr. Mom. We were raised by his whole family, really, until he met his second wife, when we were a little older. All of my earliest childhood memories are with my Dad. He messily put barettes in our little pigtails, and cooked dinner, and made pancakes on weekends, and got called into school when I beat up a 2nd grade boy in my sister's class because he pushed her down and ripped her new jeans. He carted me back and forth to gymnastics, and my sister to ballet. He traded in his gigs in the big city to sing us bedtime songs in suburbia. He fixed scraped knees and mended hurt feelings, settled sibling squabbles.

My mother moved back from Florida and we spent a lot of time shuffling back and forth between both houses, but for me, home was always where daddy was. I wouldn't be who I am if it weren't for him. I think I've gotten good qualities from both of my parents, but I've been told my whole life that I am just like him. I couldn't imagine a greater compliment.

At 57, my father plays in a band almost every weekend. It's something he gave up for more than 20 years, and it's made him younger to be on stage again. He's smart, he's creative, and he's quirky. He's my hero. Happy Birthday, Daddy.


Twyla said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father. I wish I could say the same about mine.
BTW...I love your blog. :-)

elizabeth said...

thanks, twyla. i do realize that i'm lucky to have a great dad, and i'm appreciating it more and more the older i get.
glad you found me, welcome!