My dad entered the world eighty years ago yesterday. It was a bit of an unusual feeling milestone, the idea of “My dad would be eighty today” or “Today’s my dad’s birthday – he’s just not around to celebrate it.” But celebrate I did, in a somewhat surprising way.
Saturday afternoon, as I unloaded beauty bark from the bed of my mother-in-law’s truck and spread it around our yard, I was compelled, almost inexplicably, to dig out my Mama’s & the Papa’s Greatest Hits CD. I turned it on in the house, opening doors and windows so I could hear it while I worked outside. “Huckster music,” I declared to my husband and his mom. I sang along as I shoveled, heaved, dumped and spread. “Young girls are coming to the canyon….” I talked to my five-year-old about my dad, telling him how daddad blew out his knee stepping down from the bed of a truck like the one we were in. “Was he alive then?” he asked curiously. “Yep, he was alive.” I continued singing yesterday, too. As I drove east to our church’s new campus, with the orange sunrise burning through the fog. “Look through my window, to the street below, see the people hurrying by…” In the afternoon, I took the boys to a nearby lake to swim. Without complaining, they listened to daddad’s music as it played loudly. We discussed “whenever Monday comes you can find me crying all of the time” and how those lyrics are still fitting today, especially when you have to go to school. My 11-year-old even hit repeat on “I Call Your Name” a few times.
I did wear my dad’s favorite button (If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going), handed out some of his favorite candy bars (Milky Ways) and carried one of my favorite pictures of him in my pocket. But mostly, I sang. And thanks to the Mamas & the Papas, I spent his 80th birthday with him, back in the living room of our quiet country home — his joyful presence so strong and close in the familiar songs and lyrics.
So whether you knew Huckster or simply know of him, consider grabbing yourself a Milky Way, doing some Dancing in the Street or California Dreamin’ – and he’ll be right there with you this Monday, Monday.