September 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Yesterday would have been Dad's 82nd birthday and he would have gotten a kick out of this one 9-09-09. He loved oddities of numbers - so, I know that we probably would have been hearing about how this birthday was all made of 0's and 9's. It's also entirely likely that Dad would have mentioned this wonderment numerous times over the entire year leading up to the event. I guess he figured that if it was interesting enough to say the first time, it was interesting enough to repeat. (Never one to waste a joke, he told the same ones over and over again - always making himself laugh - which, of course, made us laugh)

Based on his affection for repeated numbers, Dad even had a favorite time. He'd always say "Look Marge, it's 11:11!" and my parents would both sort of stand at attention until the time ticked over to 11:12. When my sister Suzi's 2nd daughter Wendy was born at 11:11, it took on a whole new, deepened and almost mystical significance. I once asked Dad why 11:11 was so important and he told me that it was the only time (On a 12 -hr clock) where all the numbers are the same - occurring only twice out of the 1440 possible minutes in a day. On a 24 hour clock, it was one of only 2 times where all of the numbers were the same (the other being 22:22), occurring only once out of the possible 1440 minutes in a day. All I know is that since Dad died, it's a time that has taken on special significance for me. Whenever I look at the clock and it reads 11:11, my parents come to mind and it feels almost like they're reaching out to me. It always makes me sit quietly and listen attentively until the minute passes.

But there have never been any clear messages.

I did have a dream about my mother once - about a year after she died. In the dream, I was sitting alone in a high mountain cave and my mother came to me. Mum was standing in the mouth of the cave, backlit by a very bright light and from where I was sitting - well back in the cave - I could barely make out her features. It was clear that she was urgently trying to tell me something essential, something of vital importance. I was straining to hear her, but the wind rushing past her drowned out her words and I woke feeling that something I desperately needed to know was just beyond my grasp. I still don't know what she was trying to tell me. She's never come back.

But back to Dad. My relationship to him was different. whatever we had to say to one another, we said while he was still alive. There's no sense of an urgent message I never got to hear, nothing unfinished so I can celebrate his birthday with a clear - if bittersweet - heart. My Dad was the one person who's ever made me feel safe in the world. I miss the feeling. I miss him.

Last night, I laid out a feast of his favorites: Whisky, sharp cheddar, sour pickles and olives, blueberries, caramels and black jelly beans. Everything was gone this morning except for the black jelly beans and the olives. I'd like to think they were eaten by the fairies, or a neighborhood cat...not the rats that live in the shed next door.

If Dad was here now, I'd ask him the numerical significance of a birthday of repeated 0's and 9's.
And I'd tell him I love him. And Thanks.