Here is my father - wearing a nice blue suit - along with my sister and her longterm boyfriend Kevin, at the party we had yesterday for my father's 90th birthday! 90 years - God bless him! He has survived multiple heart attacks, innumerable strokes, a broken hip, prostate cancer, and pneumonia. Truly, he is the One. He is immortal. At the party, when we handed him the microphone, he immediately indicated that he was "living day to day" at this point. I thought everyone would gasp in horror at his macabre assessment of his current situation, but instead, he got some "amen"'s from the crowd, and some good-natured chuckling. I was mortified, and I wanted to cut the power to his mike, but instead I stood there, sitting in my own feelings, which is something that I have learned in my own old age. My father is beloved, and his friends overlook his sometimes inappropriate sense of humor. (Truly, the apple didn't fall far from the tree in this case.)
My favorite memory of my father is from Christmas 1988, when, as a very young man, I told him that I had recently purchased a calendar for myself. (Even at that young age, I was held to strict accounting of the money I had spent - a lesson learned, but obviously forgotten as soon as I had any actual money). My father looked at me and replied, "A Chippendale's calendar?" (Even as a child, I was clearly as gay as a goose.) I looked at my father, aghast at the awkwardness of that comment. Awkward moments from an awkward father for an awkward son in an awkward world at an awkward time of year. It has taken me years and years and years to see how alike me and my father are, and still more to appreciate it.
Dear ones, may the coming year be awkward for you all ... it is through awkwardness that we learn to grow. And if you need 2011 to be a little more awkward, you can always borrow my dad.