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Happy Birthday

February 16, 2016

My dad wasn’t an easy person to shop for which made birthdays and holidays a little difficult for me. He didn’t play golf or fish, he wasn’t much of a reader beyond the daily newspapers (we had both a morning and an evening paper back when I was a kid), he didn’t use tweezers to glue together tiny sailing ships inside of glass bottles, and while he had a workroom down in the basement, it was more for practical purposes – like actually fixing something that needed fixing – rather than for putzing around with woodworking or electrical projects.

Dad’s hobbies were pretty limited to two things: taking care of his family and working. Since taking care of his family meant working, he did a lot of that.

He worked long days, and as a salesman who always worked on a small draw against a commission, he worked a lot of the time: Saturdays (stores were closed on Sundays back when I was a kid) and evenings when the store was open. So even if he had enjoyed things like golf and fishing and making little ships inside of glass bottles, he didn’t have a lot of time for them. The free time my dad had – when he wasn’t busy working or being a husband or a dad – he liked to spend working out on the yard.

Not a lot of good gift ideas for that.

Happy Birthday, dad. Here’s a garden spade.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. Here’s a garden hose with matching sprinkler.

Years later, after the state began selling lottery scratch cards, shopping for my dad got much easier because my dad fell in love with those scratch cards. He knew the odds of winning were against him, and while that drove me away from ever playing them (can’t say he didn’t raise a sensible son), those steep odds, the attraction of that “what if” chance to turn a dollar into a thousand, was, to him, like honey to a bee.

If today were like year’s past, I’d be out this afternoon buying a slug of lottery scratch cards and folding them all up into an envelope alongside a birthday card.

But today isn’t like year’s past.

Happy Birthday, dad. I miss you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2016 9:45 am

    My father died last year. Now, whenever my Non-sequitur calendar gives me a cartoon about lawyers, it brings a weepy nostalgia for what used to make me chortle and plan to mail it on to my dad. Now they languish on my desk, awaiting recycling in the paper great beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      February 17, 2016 7:30 am

      Thankfully I have all my body parts but I liken it to losing a body part. We’re supposed to eventually adapt, not think so much about what we don’t have, but I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 17, 2016 7:50 am

        No, from my point of view, life is one melancholy trudge to the grave…but we’re supposed to think cheerful thoughts despite this. (Can you tell I am not a morning person?)


        • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
          February 17, 2016 11:48 am

          (I am a morning person and I agree!) (And congratulations on actually saying it because I never have the nerve to.)


  2. February 16, 2016 10:14 am

    Very cool post, Michael. Your description of your dad reminds me a lot of mine growing up. I’m sorry you lost him this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      February 17, 2016 7:32 am

      Thanks, Melissa. Yesterday was actually the fourth year and it seems with each passing year I think about him more. Not sure why that is… I hope you’re doing well!



  1. Happy Birthday | Michaelsfishbowl

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