Happy Birthday

Dear Dad,

In November of 1998, your hands were frail, paper thin skin drawn tight over swollen knuckles. You had liver spots, although you were only sixty-eight, not old by today’s standards. Old is eighty-something. Old is for other people.

That day, you struggled to breathe and disdained the oxygen the doc wanted you to use full time, but smoking a pack a day for forty years had finally caught up to you. You thought because you’d quit the year before, it couldn’t hurt you anymore, but past mistakes never lose their power to injure. Echoes roll forward through the years.

You were glad we came, but you were so tired. I saw it in the hollows of your eyes. Even though you never yielded in your heart and mind, never doubted the doctors would find a way to save you, your body was giving up for you.

I knew you were gravely ill, but I didn’t want to deal with it. That’s how I function, push it back until I don’t have a choice anymore. On December 24, 1998, that flashpoint occurred. You collapsed while everyone was trying to celebrate the holiday around you, pretending you weren’t dying. Pretending we were full of good cheer and this was a holiday like any other.

But it wasn’t. And holidays would never be the same again. You stayed in the hospital on life support until January 2. I held your hand while you died.

In September of 1999, I bore a son and I named him after you. He was conceived the night we put you in the ground. You never saw him or held him, but he is your namesake.

Ten years later, it is your birthday. Remember how I always bought you a box of peanut brittle and two copies of the same book? Generally a spy novel. You liked Ian Fleming and John le Carre. I bought our books from a bargain table because I was a poor student back then. We would read the novel at the same time, and then discuss it. That gave us some common ground, something to talk about, because we didn’t have much in common otherwise. We were the only two people in the family who liked to read. Now I’m the only one.

I miss you. Ten years gone and I miss the way you fussed over whether I had jumper cables, if I had an emergency kit in the car and a pair of comfortable shoes. When I graduated college, you said you were proud of me. I’ve made so many mistakes over the years; I hope you still are.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I wish you a good book and peanut brittle, wherever you are.

Love,
Ann

It’s my birthday. Go birthday!

Today is my birthday. Woohoo! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I’m home alone, at least until the maid gets here at 10. Anybody who has kids (or even roommates) can appreciate the lovely feeling of being left to your own devices.

We had a big family party on Saturday, where I ate an awesome burger, danced, drank some Chivas and listened to some really funny stories. The celebration went on for some six hours, so I’m okay to chill this fine Monday. We’ll probably go out to dinner somewhere tonight, but otherwise it’s business as usual for me today.

I’m on page 255 out of 283 in my Good Touch revisions, but it’s the last bit here that needs the most work. However, I think I’ve just about figured out how to fix the rough parts. I’m nearly done with the accompanying proposal as well. It would be a grand birthday present to myself if I managed to get the project back out the door to my agent today, but we’ll see.

Anyway, contest news: I have a new one running over on the Bradford Bunch, one you won’t want to miss. The prize is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Go check it out.

We have a contest winner over here too! L has won an e-ARC of Boundless. Blam! Her first time commenting on my blog, and she racks up a win. Email me, and I’ll hook you up.

Finally, I have a contest running on my loop, but I can’t talk about it here. If you were a member of my inner circle, you’d already know what it was all about, and you’d probably have entered by now. But don’t despair. If you hate feeling left out, just put your email in the box up in the sidebar, and you can still enter. It closes on Aug 29, midnight. I hope you’ll join us.

And for those of you who, like me, could never get enough of Mr. Hut from Life on a Stick, I bring you this very special Happy Birthday Dance. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pnXGJvNAls] The look on your face is thanks enough.