“Memories” or “A Sort of Mental Scrapbook Thingy, In Lieu of a Real Gift”

Some men have wonderful daughters who go all-out on their father’s birthdays with cards and gifts and special surprises and who knows what all. Then there’s you, Dad, who, between the three of your daughters, will generally get a handful of “Happy birthday!”s and a family dinner out on your dime.

That’s just the usual, mind you. For this year’s birthday – today – you’ll get a little extra; namely, I’m dedicating this blog post to my personal “things remembered” that revolve around you. Some of these recollections may ring a bell with you, others may not. Either way, may this serve as a token of the impact you’ve had on my current mental state.

Once when I was quite young, we attended some sort of father/daughter function. I was all dressed up and excited to spend the evening with you, daddy’s girl that I was, back then. Whoever was running this show had us playing some game where you had to guess my favorite this, that, and the other. When asked my favorite color, you said blue. My answer? Green. From that night to this day, I have no idea why I said that. Blue has ever been my uncontested favorite color, with green hanging out in third place at best. But when put on the spot with a microphone in her face, Little Danielle said green, and immediately felt like a schmuck for making you look like you didn’t know your own daughter, when the truth was that you were probably the only one in the room who had a clue. I have yet to forgive myself.

I once had a nightmare in which abominable snowmen emerged from my bedroom’s humidifier. Dream Me fled into the old condo’s living room, seeking your protection. You stood up to the monsters like a good father should, but the last I recall seeing of the battle, you looked gravely overwhelmed. I don’t think this was a reflection of my waking childhood opinion of you, because I more or less assumed that you could take on any threat, from bugs to thugs to frozen abominations. In dreams, on the other hand, you’ll half the time feature as the antagonist yourself. Don’t feel picked on, though; Mom and I have been known to get into some knock-down, drag-out dream fights, too.

– The highlight of our first family trip to Mackinac Island was the bike ride around the isle’s perimeter. Yeah, the scenery was pretty, but I mostly remember it because you and I shared a bicycle built for two. Pedaling in tandem with you felt super special, and I don’t recall your telling me to stop that incessant singing of my spur-of-the-moment songs, not once. A minstrel father wouldn’t have been half so tolerant. Thank you.

– How ‘bout that time you were doing handstands against the door? You probably don’t know which specific time I mean, since that kind of physical stuff is an everyday thing, for you. I was in another room, at the time, and so wouldn’t have even known what you were up to, had I not heard a strained cry of “Who-o-oa!” just before you fell over. Such was my preferred brand of comedy, at that young age, so I’ve never forgotten the laugh you unintentionally provided. And speaking of inside laughs that will go down in history…

– Hoish browns and the Rich Builder Payer. Crime’s on, that’s all I’m going to say.

Do you remember our “Goodnight” song? Man, I may have been in my teens before we finally let that bedtime tradition die. Again, a minstrel father wouldn’t have put up with it. Or he’d have written a better song.

What about our wrestling matches? Not that “matches” is really the word for it, since I was never anything like a match for you, with or without my sisters’ occasional support. I don’t know why we invited them to join in the giggly roughhousing in the first place; one of them usually ended up crying, and besides, it was our thing. …Originally, anyway. Part of my birthright as the firstborn. What sort of silly, so-called rights did you have as firstborn of your father, I wonder? Apart from the “Jr.” on the end of your name. I didn’t get one of those, and so embraced “Danielle Elizabeth Shipley, No Jr.” as my full name for some years. It was the closest I could get to making a match of our names, if not our grappling ability.

I don’t actually remember telling you to shave your mustache, but I can’t say I’m sorry that I reputedly did; the ‘stache was scratchy, that I remember. And I remember shaving with you, from time to time – you with your actual razor, me with… what did you even give me to get all the cream off my face? I’ve forgotten that, too. Gosh, we must have looked adorable, though.

At least our faces mostly match. (:

At least our faces mostly match. (:

I could go on, of course. After twenty-four years with you, I’ve got memories stacked up past the rafters. And I hope we’ll have just as many future years, and more, to add to the pile.

Happy birthday, Daddy. Luv-a you.

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