We celebrated my father's 80th birthday yesterday. Drove to Washington, frantically wrapping his gifts with Christmas wrapping paper (Hey, it's what I could find!) as we flew down I-95.
I got him two books, one on architecture and the other on the oppression of left-handed people (as a leftie, he's always felt strongly about this). Also I made an electronic birthday card he really liked. He seemed touched that we had made the trip.....and he is a man who is not easily touched.
At Friday's parent-teacher conference, the teacher said about my son, "he knows he's a little different." In fact, that could be said of each and every member of my family--both the one I come from and the one my husband and I have created. Yesterday, sitting next to my father, I was grateful for that. There he sat, at 80, looking dapper in blue jeans, sneakers, and a Brooks Brothers sweater. He is a primary source of our collective and slightly twisted sense of humor.
My parents are anything but conventional. As a child, it embarrassed me. Now I see it as a gift. I don't want to be unconventional in the same way as they are (that would be a contradiction in terms). But I sure do appreciate the lesson. Their lives demonstrate the wisdom of living by the dictum, "to thine own self be true."