Happy birthday to my father, happy birthday to me

Today my dad told me I was conceived at a campground in Indian River, in a tent, underneath a nest of birds, in August.  “I think that’s really nice,” he said.  And while I can understand how it might be nice to him, I’m still a little grossed out, thinking of my parents having sex. I mean, I know I’m 30 now, but still. Yuck.

My paternal grandmother, my father and I were all born on the same day, even though I was supposed to be a May baby.  I came quite early, interrupting the family celebration, upside down and pretty determined, apparently.  I asked my dad this morning if this was his favorite day, since its the day I came into his world and he answered me seriously  – Yes, absolutely. 

I think this day is hard for my dad now, with his mother gone. Although no one in our nuclear family had a very good relationship with her, something I’ll blog about someday, perhaps, she still celebrated every year with him for over sixty years, and every year with me for 27.  We gave each other gifts and agreed on the flavor of the cake and drank champagne, toasting the unbelievable coincidence…three birthdays on the same day, all first born children.

I’d like to say I miss my grandmother on my birthday but it’s not particularly true.  She was the kind of woman who ladled out her love in soupcons, and she told me more than once while she loved me and my brother, she loved my cousins more.  “There’s just something about your daughter’s children,” she said. “They are much more special.” She was that kind of grandma, and that kind of mother to my father – the mother who never wrote him one letter during his two  tours of duty in Vietnam because “She just couldn’t bear to think of him there,” the mother who gave away all of his band medals to his little sister while he was away, so she could pin them to her own letterman’s jacket, to look like she had earned them (I should note, despite my grandmother’s preference for my aunt, my aunt is a lovely person, full of grace, whom I love completely, as does my dad. She has taken care of me time and time again and she’s the kind of person, well, you can feel her love).  

This is the first year, happily, though – that I feel true forgiveness for her.  Elizabeth Gilbert’s   Eat, Pray, Love   helped me with that, as did beginning to attend church. I feel an exceptional thankfulness to my grandmother, for giving me my dad, and, well, I don’t know…I feel kindness towards her, and compassion.  She may not have known how to be   a great mother or grandmother but to be fair, she came of age in a day where she didn’t have many other options to pursue.  And I have heard stories about HER mother that make me cry, on her behalf.

I am rather adamant about my birthday. I make sure people know it’s coming and I celebrate it as much as possible. One reason for this is because I believe in celebrating, in the importance of marking the time we spend here and finding joy wherever we can. I have always loved my birthday.  But another reason, a dark and inherently unfair reason to those I love, is that someday this day will come and my dad will not be with me to celebrate and I cannot imagine my birthday without my dad.  We turn older every year together and I have never had to walk into a new year alone – he has always held my hand and moved forward with me.  This is a bit of an unfair burden I put on S. and my dad and my mom and my friends….that our birthdays be celebrated in style, fabulously well, but at the same time when my birthday rolls around and it is mine alone, I want to be comforted with dozens of years of cakes and cocktails and celebrations, of asking my dad if this was his favorite day and hearing I was his favorite birthday present.  I love him to the point of tears, and I insist upon commemorating that, for as long as we can.

And now, for my dad’s 64th birthday, his favorite poem:

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE

By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.               

This entry was posted in Everything In Between, Hopelessly Indulgent Reflection. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Happy birthday to my father, happy birthday to me

  1. yogamum says:

    What a wonderful relationship you have with your dad. Happy birthday to both of you!

  2. Carl V. says:

    Happy Birthday to you both!!! I can see how that story would creep you out a bit, but it is sweet.

  3. Kelly says:

    Happy Birthday to you!

    And you’re dad!

    May you have a fabulous evening filled with cakes and drink and champagne.

    I’m glad to know you Courtney!

    Kelly

  4. Yogamum – thanks! I do have such a wonderful relationship with him – I know I’m so blessed!
    Carl, it is sweet, you are absolutely right. Sweet…and yucky.
    Kelly – thanks! I’m very glad to know you, too.

  5. Fence says:

    Happy Birthday, to you and your Dad.

  6. Amy says:

    Here’s my toast to 30th Birthdays and better skin!

    Happy Birthday Baby!

  7. Emily says:

    Happy, happy birthday to wonderful you! And to your wonderful dad, too. And welcome to your thirties, which was the best decade of my life until I reached my forties (I’m hoping this trend continues).

  8. Dorothy W. says:

    Happy birthday! I like what you say about the importance of marking time and finding joy where we can — may you and your father have many wonderful celebrations together!

  9. nicolemarie says:

    happy birthday to you and your father. Or, as we say here in Argentina, feliz cumpleaños!

  10. Kerryn says:

    Happy birthday to you both! May you have many more joyful celebrations together.

  11. Cam says:

    Happy Birthday to you and your Dad!

  12. missv says:

    Happy birthday and welcome to the 30s! That’s a lovely poem.

  13. Happy birthday to you and to your dad. I like that you are “adamant” about your birthday. I wish you lots of champagne, candles, presents, celebrations and big hugs from all who love you.

  14. m says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  15. litlove says:

    Happy Birthday, Courtney! You go for those cakes, girl! I say that there have to be lots of compensations for getting older, and if you’re going to party, you might as well do it in style. Have a fantastic time with your family, especially your dad (you can tell him Happy Birthday from me too, if he’d like that).

  16. Kim says:

    Happy Birthday, Courtney! Welcome to your thirties. I believe in big celebrations too. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time when I turned 30. And I turned 40 in Jamaica while swimming with dophins. What a special connection to have with your dad and grandmother. Cheers!

  17. smithereens says:

    I join the chorus and wish you and your dad a wonderful birthday!

  18. Andi says:

    What a wonderful post (and a happy belated birthday to you and your dad). I’ve always been one to go all-out on birthdays…my own and my relatives’…because, as you said, we should celebrate life, another year of wisdom, and not forget that each passing year, day, minute is a gift.

  19. Wow, Thank you everybody, so much! Let’s see…
    amy, as I noted I’m taking my skin to professionals next week, I’ll let you know what I find out!
    Emily – women like you give me great hope for the all the years to come!
    Dorothy – Thank You!
    Nicole – thank you, too!
    Kerryn – I hope we have many more celebrations together, too.
    Cam, thanks!
    Miss V – I’ve always loved Yeats, as has my dad.
    Charlotte – what a sweet wish!
    M – we’ve been friends now for well over half our lives…how fun is that? How lucky are we?
    Litlove – My dad will get a kick out of it – I’ll pass it along!
    Kim – I’m determined now to spend my 40th swimming with dophins too!
    Smithereen- come on over! We have lots of cake.
    Andi, I’m not sure if I’m wiser today but I’m definitely celebrating life!

  20. Stefanie says:

    Happy belated birthday!

  21. Courtney…I’m late reading this, but I do recall Katie going to your birthday party…Happy Belated birthday, nonetheless:) I share some of those sentiments about my father and also with my mom (I was born on her birthday:) Hope to see you on Sunday!

  22. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    The swimming greats you should write about next, my ex was an olympic swimmer!

  23. Every weekend i used to go to see this site, because i want enjoyment, as this this
    site conations in fact nice funny data too.

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