Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Memo to My Son

This is one of the four most important days in my life, every year. I am still in awe, nearly thirty-two years after she said yes, technically 'ja', that my wife is still my wife so I celebrate our anniversary as if I had anything to do with the longevity of our relationship when it's really all her. And of course, there's her birthday, which I've never forgotten (nor correctly captured with either the right gift or the correct card), but I'm getting closer.

We celebrated my daughter's birthday early in May and I realize she was being kind in putting up with her mushy old dad but that won't stop me from imposing upon her in exactly the same manner next year, because mushy dads cultivate not having very good memories.

Today is the 27th birthday of our son, Patrick Michael. I remember all of it as if it were yesterday and smile looking at his earliest photos (technically speaking the black and white Polaroids of him on ultrasound), though in this case I mean after he left the capsule, so to speak. One small step for man .... usw.

I ended up in the geburtsaal even though most of our neighbors had quietly bet I would pass out if I accompanied Sigrid into the delivery room. As it was, she almost cut my left hand in half squeezing it during the contractions as it's the hand I wear my wedding ring on. Every time I even thought about mentioning that pain to her, I'd look into her face, a lovely face filled with abject hatred for me and my having put her through the pain of childbirth, and decided that I'd be better advised mentioning my problem at another time, perhaps our Golden wedding anniversary.

The physician Sigrid had seen during her pregnancy was unimpressed with having a lallygagger hanging around the OR, especially one who looked as loopy as I did before we had children. All he wanted to know was 'warum?' (why?)-because, I said, I placed the order so I want to take delivery. Still cannot really recall the look on his face, try as I might, but I'll bet it wasn't a look of gratitude as in 'just what I needed, an American nearly-comedian'.

I've told you when Patrick was born, they placed him with Sigrid to bond and then she gave him to me as, after all, she'd carried him for the last nine months. I walked him around the operating room like I was doing a tour for Grey Line and we in lower Manhattan. As much as I love my wife, and I do, being present for the birth of my son was the single most amazing thing I have (n)ever done.

He takes off every year for his birthday and this year he went with a friend to visit her friends and family in Maine. You'd think knowing where he was going and with whom would keep me from making the scary movies I make every time one of my children is out of my sight. Especially my son who has lived under his own roof for quite a number of years. Sorry-you aren't a parent and most certainly not a dad, because that never goes away. There's always a nagging worry especially with a first-born and more especially when it's your son.

Everything you vowed when you were a kid to never do if you had a son when it was your father being the dad, rushes in to grab you by the ear and lead you down the corridor of memory when you are the dad. And all you can hope is that you don't mess up your children. Meanwhile, all those times you thought your old man was just nuts and had NO clue about what was really going on, and when you remember your son's behavior at that same age, you realize, the part of the clueless father is now being played by you.

"Wait'll you learn how to talk baby, I'll show you how smart I am." Well, one of us mastered the language, and then another one, a long time; and the other of us is still working on that smart trick. Any day now. What can I say? Nur Patrick!!! Herzlichen Gluckwunsche zum Geburtstag!

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