Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy

Today is my father's birthday. He would be 89 years old if he were still living.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to give my parents gifts for their birthdays, but I never had money until I was of babysitting age. Any change I had in my pockets for trips to Dairy Queen were nickels and dimes I found under the couch cushions.

So, I made cards. One summer, all the kids in my neighborhood went to the park for the summer program. It was a day camp run by high school and college kids, and we played every game we could fit into one sunny day—T-ball, kick ball, a weird Americanized cricket. There was a giant ball that was kept in a storage barn, and sometimes one of the leaders would take it out, and we would all lunge at it and strain to lift it off the ground, the ball being larger than any one of us.

We worked on organized crafts on most days, and on one particular day, we made candles. The leaders melted crayons and let us choose a color, and then we poured the melted wax into little plastic Solo cups with a wick stuck in the center. That day I realized that was my chance to actually come up with a gift other than a construction paper card, so I chose brown wax, my father's favorite color. At the end of the day, I hid the little brown candle in a drawer so I could give it to my father in January. I think he mumbled a "thank you," but what the heck was he going to do with a little brown candle? He stuck it in a drawer with some loose shot gun shells and old tie pins.

A few years later I raided my artist sister's supplies and walked away with a book about drawing the human face, some drawing paper, and some matte board. I chose two interesting figures from the book and copied them to the best of my ability, signed the paper, glued it to board, and voila—a birthday gift. I gave it to my father, and he kept it on his dresser for years. My mother gave it to me after he died, and I recently found it in my magical music cabinet.

Here is the drawing:

And here is the cabinet so you know what it looks like in case some other treasure might spill out of it in the future.

4 comments:

Shan said...

Those are nice memories. I don't know yet what it's like to lose a parent but I know it must be one of the most painful experiences. My mom has an old music cabinet very much like that one only it is a plainer version. I've always pictured yours to look just like it and I was not far off. It is like a time machine for you and that is magical for sure. :)

dive said...

I like it when you tell stories of your parents, Robyn.
I am so glad they held on to your old stuff so we can all enjoy it now.

lynn said...

Very touching, Robyn. It's a good drawing too. He must have loved it.

Alifan said...

Thanks Robyn what a great thing to have kept the drawing..

When we cleared my dear Mum and Dad's house we found beautiful valentine cards all lace etc... we never knew they existed and so Jan has put them in an album...memories are great....