I get up and wrap my sky-blue, winter bathrobe around my body. It’s June but it is still cold, with temperatures in the high fifties. Slippers protect my feet from the cold floor, and I do my early morning shuffle to the kitchen to make coffee.
As I catch sight of my reflection, I sigh and smile as I think about the inevitability of aging. What did one husband say to his wife as she was looking into the mirror sighing at her aging self? “Don’t believe everything you see!”
And then I remember: Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday! How could I forget? I blame my inability to remember to send cards on not being raised on Hallmark. In Pakistan, you made your cards. You didn’t go to the store and shop among the thousands. And Hallmark was never around to remind you of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, your dad’s birthday.
But it’s Dad’s birthday and a warm feeling comes over me. My dad has always been a strength in my life. Early memories flood my mind: My dad at his large, messy desk, head bent in concentration; driving our trusty Landrover over precarious roads in Pakistan; gregarious – laughing with friends and telling jokes; on his knees every day before his Maker.
I am re-reading my mom’s book, and with that comes another look at my dad’s life beyond my own memories. Falling in love with my mom, heading to Pakistan for the first time, building a flush toilet and a shower system at one of their first houses in Pakistan, translating the Bible into Sindhi. They speak of an accomplished man with a heart for God and a stubborn will to continue in the hard places. No wonder my mom and I both reacted when a nurse who couldn’t have been more than 22 years old called him “Hon.” My dad isn’t a “Hon.” He is a man who knows three languages; has flown around the world numerous times;has taken trips to places the nurse couldn’t even pronounce. Sorry honey – you can’t call him ‘hon’ on my watch. My dad, gracious man that he is, would have been mortified if we had said anything. And so we didn’t.
Thinking of my dad provides solid memories in an ever changing world. The older I get, the more important these memories become. For Dad is facing what every human faces: He is getting older. He celbrates his 89th birthday and, though I still see him as strong, he is not as strong as he once was.
But that’s his body. Age may change the outside, but the inside belongs to God alone. Age may take his earthly body, but it will never take his soul. That’s the legacy he lives, that will be the legacy he leaves.
And so I remember and I smile. Happy Birthday Dad! I love you to the moon and back.