Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Birthday Wish

Today is this guy’s birthday. My dad turns 65 today. It’s a milestone year. Some might look at the number negatively, for its fully-entrenched senior status. But like I told my pops on the phone the other day, “You’re only as old as you feel!”

My dad once confided in me that he doesn’t always recognize the man staring back at him when he looks in the mirror. He doesn’t always feel as old as he thinks he looks. He sees the wrinkles, the silvery-white hair, but on the inside he still feels very much like the same man he was 30-plus years ago, with taut skin, a brown mane, even a six-pack!

Of course, he didn’t say all that. Not that last bit. But I knew what he meant, about not recognizing his own reflection. He said it with his characteristic self-deprecating humor, but I heard a tinge of sadness in his words. And I realized I’ll probably feel the same way, too, someday. We’re all human. None of us really want to get older, to age. Wisdom sure, wrinkles—no thanks. Though I think my dad’s silver strands and fine lines make him look quite stately.

When we got back our wedding photos a few weeks ago, my dad loved them, of course, except for the ones of himself. Again, he said seeing the HD-quality pics made him realize how old he is.

[Yep, that's my trying not to cry face.]

But that’s not how I remember him on that day. Some of my best memories from the wedding are of my dad and I. In fact, some of my best memories with my father ever are from the wedding.

He was uncharacteristically emotional and expressive. Right before our walk down the aisle, I fluffed my hair and dress and worriedly asked my father, “Do I look OK?”

“You look like a supermodel,” my dad replied.

I don’t think there’s anything better you could say to a girl about to walk down the aisle to her waiting fiancĂ©.

Then, during our father-daughter dance, the dude made me blubber like a baby. (With no hankie to catch my tears!) I didn’t expect him to be so reflective during our turn around the dance floor. He told me how he couldn’t be happier in my choice of a husband. He recalled our father-daughter dance in elementary school, when I stood on his toes as he twirled us around. He took my hand and pulled it to his chest as he whispered, “You used to sleep right here.” It was my favorite place to be as a baby, and his favorite, too. And then he said what probably every father feels on his daughter’s wedding day: That, no matter what, I’ll always be his little girl.

I’m getting weepy just writing about it.

That is what I remember of my dad from my wedding day. I cherish those moments, those words, probably more than he knows. I’m just so glad he was there, white hair and all. My dad made me feel like a princess that day, and incredibly loved.

So today, on his birthday, I hope he knows how much he is loved. My birthday wish for him, and for me, is simply to have more years, more happy moments together. That every wrinkle be a reminder of a wonderful memory.

(All photos by the lovely and talented Heidi Orcino of heidi-o-photo.)

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