Birthday / by Susie Lubell

My brother called me today at work and completely caught me off guard. Do you remember Dad's drink? he asked. I hadn't thought about my dad's drink in years. Stoli Gibson straight up, not to dry, with a twist. It rolled off the tongue. What a random question for a random Thursday in August. But then I checked the date. It was (is) his birthday. My brother was in DC for a short business trip and out to dinner with a friend. So he ordered my dad's drink, said a l'chaim and swigged it. He would have been 69 today. But he died when he was 52. And I was 18. And I was thinking about college, not preschool.

I was startled when my brother called because I actually hadn't thought about my dad all day, which is weird because I usually think about him a few times a day. My son looks just like him. Unfortunately I mostly think about everything he's missed and how he would have enjoyed being a grandpa. I'm not sure how much he enjoyed being a father though I have no way of really knowing. I tell myself it was a different time. Fathers were less involved. Less engaged. He provided for his family. But he spent his free time playing golf. At least that's how I remember it. My husband spends his "free time" at the park.

But I think he would have really loved being a grandfather. That would have felt just right for him. He would have been silly and made up words and sang songs. He loved show tunes. And sometimes I can just picture him doing a puzzle with my son or reading a story to my baby girl. Or I'll see her toddling through the park with her crazy brown curls bouncing and I'll think he would have really loved this crazy girl. Thankfully they don't feel the loss. Just me.