It was my birthday, and the $35 check was a gift. My father is older than President Joe Biden — and the national media has assured me that’s very, very old — and he simply transferred the name of the church to which he sends regular donations in my name. These things happen.
I’m nowhere near my parents’ age, and I can’t really get my kids’ names right when there are more than three of them in the same room.
Once, when I tripped down the stairs at his house, my eldest son helped me up and asked me if I was okay — while his younger brothers and sisters laughed at my lack of grace. While he was helping me in my time of need, and even though I spilled coffee on his white carpet, I thanked him and wiped him as my favorite son. Then I called him by the wrong name.
People read too…
My dad and I laugh a lot about the clamor of writing checks every year on my birthday (which was last week), mostly because I wouldn’t let it slide. This is my way. It’s something my kids remind me of every time I start telling a story they’ve heard many times.
“Yes, Dad,” they would say, before telling me the end of the story and laughing at my tendency to repeat.
In fact, I became my father.
I thought about this two days after my birthday, when my neighbor and I stood on the sidewalk outside our homes talking about the holes in our yards. There has been some utility work in the neighborhood, some of which is taking longer than expected.
A utility company dug a hole in my neighbor’s yard, trying to fix a broken electrical connection to another neighbor’s house. This connection was cut while the other utility company was burying the cable. This utility company is the cause of the hole in my lawn. I go out once a day and stare at it, wondering if it will ever go away. Should I decorate it for Thanksgiving? Or maybe Christmas? Will it be gone by then?
As my neighbor and I looked at the holes in our yards, we took a walk down memory lane. Our daughters, who have grown up together since they were preschoolers, now drive. Therefore, it has become common for us to have extra cars in our driveways or parked on the street in front of our homes.
My neighbor remembers that there was a time, when the city frowned on street parking and flagged his car for towing when it was there for a few days. Now all the kids in the neighborhood drive, and taking to the street is often a lesson in patience, especially since not all utility trucks fill the gaps in the yards.
Times change. Our children drive, and soon, they will be gone. There will be no cars in front of the house. But will the holes disappear by then?
I spend a lot of time in my garden. That’s what men of a certain age do. We look into the mole’s tunnels and draw up our plan of attack. (I have a mole leg. It’s faster than the utility companies.) We watch the leaves fall and wonder why most of them end up in our yard instead of the ones across the street. We fill our bird feeders and add another layer of protection against squirrels and deer when we think food is disappearing too quickly. We admire the grass we cut and feel good about a job well done.
I got this trait from my father. He’s still mowing his lawn — take that, Biden! -And he calls me to tell me about it. I will do the same soon. In the next couple of years, my babies will have fledged the nest and the house will be quiet, except for the dogs, who don’t care to hear about my lawn-mowing exploits.
So I’m going to call one of the kids to explain to me the intricacies of my new lawn mower and how it saves me five minutes every time I mow. I’ll ask them if they received the birthday check I sent in the mail.
They’ll say, “Dad, you sent it to the wrong kid.”