Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A day at the Races

Buying a gift for my Dad was always difficult. He never really wanted or needed anything. Most times we, his sons, would get him something that we knew we could steal from him in the near future. Like, maybe, a power tool we knew we would need. Or maybe a sweatshirt that he could add to his 50 other sweatshirts that we could later secretly take from his closet and never return. We called it vict-ing, which was late 80’s slang for stealing.

I don’t know how many times I would see one of my brothers in a nice jacket or pull-over and I would ask, “Where did you get that?” And the response was always, “I vict it from dad?”

Some years we would chip in and get something big. Or some years, depending on what day of the week his birthday fell on, we would all get together at the Philadelphia Park Race Track and give him money for betting the ponies.

One of those days was May 7th either 1994 or 1995. I am not sure which year but it had to be a Saturday or Sunday because most of my brothers were there. I remember it as a day that my dad could not stop laughing.

It is no secret in my family that I get most of my genes and looks from my mom’s side of the family. The rest of my siblings look more like my dad's side. I was always called Rocky’s son, after our mailman Rocco. While we were at the track I was taking some good-natured ribbing from my brother’s about how I was not part of the family. At one point one of my brothers mentioned how my beard made me look like my mom’s brother Buddy.

My dad laughed. “You really do look like your mom’s family.” He said.

“Well that is because of my facial hair.” I said. “And if Pat had a beard he would look like Uncle Tim. And if John had a moustache he would look like any one of mom’s sisters.”

Up until that time, I have never heard my dad laugh as hard as he did right then. His head tilted back and he roared. The entire place turned to see what was causing the commotion. It took him several minutes to recover. And from that moment and for the rest of the day he laughed at everything we said and did.

The conversations eventually changed to other topics, like sports, horses, beer and chicks . We covered the gamut. We laughed at everything. It was not a day of a father hanging out with his sons. For me it was a bunch of guys, equals, friends, hanging out and enjoying the day.

His day.


You look like a monkey and you smell like one too.

22 comments:

Sharkey said...

Happy birthday, Skip.

Teri said...

Happy Birthday, to the Skipster.

He sounds like a great man.

April said...

That was sweet. I actually got a little teary eyed reading about a man I don't know, written by a man I don't know. The internet is an amazing thing.

Elda said...

I want to say something meaningful, but can't think of anything that would actually make a difference to YOU.

Happy Birthday to such a great man, and thank you for sharing your memories of him with US.

Gwen said...

Great memory! Thanks for sharing it.

Sharfa said...

That's an awesome memory. Hang on to it.

Becky said...

I wanna go to the races with you guys and your dad. Is that creepy?

Your memories are so awesome...I sometimes feel as if I have forgotten all of the good stuff.

Sinking into a slow depression...maybe you could post more about the go-go so that I can giggle again. :)

Blessings,
The Maid

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthdad

Heather said...

Sounds like a great time. And I know - my husband takes me to the horse races every year for my birthday. My choice, not his.

Circus Kelli said...

Happy Birthday, Skip. That's a fine family you've got there, sir.

Undercover Mutha said...

I feel intense sadness for families that do not laugh together. Laughter and love go hand in hand in my book. Happy birthday, Skip.

Bogart in P Towne said...

That sounds like one of the best days...

Honestly, I am so happy to have heard many of these stories through your writing. It has been a blessing for me.

eclectic said...

Dude, what?! I'm trying to work here!! And you're over there making me laugh, and cry, and miss my own dad so much...

Nah, I'm just messing with you. You're doing the right thing, remembering all the best things. The "first"s during that first year without a loved one are the hardest. At least, they were for me... first birthday, first anniversary, first father's day, first holiday season... the best way to get through them is to mark them with good memories.

Happy (Dad's) Birthday to you and your family, Bill.

creative-type dad said...

What a great story. I like that last line too

sari said...

It's a lucky person to have a memory like that. Laughter is one of the best things our parents can give us (or us to them).

The Q said...

Very cool memory. Thanks for sharing it.

Your poor Aunts. I hope they don't read this ;-)

gigglepotamus said...

That laugh-- I can still hear it clear as day. It was infectious...

rudecactus said...

Very cool, man. Very cool story.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! I'm sure everyone is going to miss him singing the Monkey Birthday Song. It was always nice to hear it and i'm sure it will live on with us forever.

Aunt Jo said...

:o) I love it when that happens

kalki said...

Aw man, you made me tear up. But also smile. What a beautiful day.

Tismee2 said...

I laughed outloud at the moustache thing too. I could just imagine.