The youngest grandchild was fourteen months old, toddling around like a drunken sailor, occasionally crawling under the glass-topped dining room table to get away from the fray. The oldest party-goer was my Dad's cousin Arthur, a tall thin 83-year-old flirt. In between were all the rest of us, eating cake, talking, laughing, doing a jig saw puzzle, wrangling nieces and nephews--"Lucy! Get down!"--and looking at the album of photos which we compiled for Dad's 75th.
He cried when he looked at all the old pictures, some of which he had even forgotten existed. There was our mother, dark-eyed and gorgeous and young, before the M.S., before the bad times. There we all were with our terrible '70s haircuts, up against the car with the sun in our eyes, squinting.
Dad was overcome and overjoyed. And he cried when I showed him the poem I wrote for him, which I tucked as a surprise into See How We Almost Fly. I really don't have words for how much I love my father. I can't convey the utter sweetness of this man who would do anything, give anything for his children. He shows me the roundness of a life well-lived, coming full circle, the children's children on his lap, the overspilling living room.
There was a freak early snow on the day we celebrated his birthday--earliest in the year in recorded history. I had brought my long underwear and I wore it, despite everyone's teasing--yes, I am a California wuss and I need to be warm. Christopher and I went out and ate pub food. I wanted him to taste real New England onion rings which are so delicious and about a jillion calories apiece. He liked the clam chowder and the fish chowder.
Monday, my birthday, we wandered around Newburyport, a scenic little fishing town that has become a tourist mecca. Looked in windows at stores selling ships in a bottle, looked at boats on the dilapidated wharf, ate seafood chili, and wandered under leafy tree-cathedrals. I had taught poetry workshops in a nephew's fifth grade classroom and a niece's kindergarten earlier in the week, so there was a little bit of everything: work, play, family, and couple time. The one thing there was no time or space for was writing, so now I'm back at it, back at my desk, looking at rough drafts for some new poems, the revision of an essay about remarriage, and of course the new play, The Recruiter. Trying to decide which thing to work on first. Poems win.