I remember thinking, as a little girl, a long time ago, that I would grow up and marry you. Later, I don’t remember thinking about you much at all probably because, as a freelance artist, you were always around. As a teenager, I remember thinking I wish you (and Mom) weren’t so weird. Then, as a young adult, I started thinking maybe weird wasn’t so bad after all. Now, as a working artist and mother of two teenagers, I think you’re one of my best friends and a creative soul mate and, since it’s your birthday, I wanted to give you my Monday.
Here are some things I know because of you:
- You can make a sandwich out of any 3 leftover ingredients in your refrigerator. If an item looks dicey or the expiration date is unknown, heat it to scorching in a frying pan with butter and put a piece of cheese over it. If the bread is stale, just toast it. Eat your sandwich standing at a counter or over a sink.
- There’s a good chance that NPR can teach you as much about everything you will ever need to know in this world as will any college or university.
- If people are in your personal space and they are bothering you or milling around in any way, feed them until they go away.
- A salad does not actually take an hour and a half to make.
- You can make art out of cereal boxes and paper bags!
- Being with children will nourish your heart, feed your soul and keep you young.
- Getting old does not mean you have to stop being cool.
- Laughter is appropriate in nearly every imaginable situation.
- A dental hygiene obsession is very likely genetic.
- The Universe is most definitely sending us messages via the wrappers from Dove chocolates.
- If you are an artist, you have to make art.
You have also taught me a lot about humility, about optimism, about being both fervently curious and unrelentingly skeptical, and about the best ways to get along with people in this world. You gave me a big nose, oily skin and runner’s legs, an urge to create stuff and the inability to make a simple visit to the supermarket or the post office without it taking half the day because of all the people I will see and the conversations I will need to have along the way. You are the person I trust most to do my editing and I am always grateful for your honest critique of my work. You are one of the funniest people I know and the most dedicated reader of this blog. And I know that you will say you wouldn’t do your life any other way but I believe that being the parent to stay home and raise children was not only unconventional in the 70’s, it was also a huge professional sacrifice. Now that I’m both a parent and an artist, I’m not sure how you did it. But I’m glad you did.
I think this is the kind of thing that, when you read it, it’s going to sound a little bit like I think you’re close to death, which I know you will think is funny. It reminds of when I dedicated my first book, I Love The Night, to you and people would whisper in a sympathetic voice, “Oh, when did your dad pass away?” and how much we laughed about that. We live many miles apart and I wish that we could see each other more often than we do but the hours we spend on the phone together each week string my days together in the nicest way. And, the truth is that when I think about you, I like to imagine the day when I am one hundred years old and I am calling you up to wish you a Happy One Hundred and Thirty Three.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.
TRY THIS WEEK: Tell someone you love what you think of them.