Today’s my dad’s birthday and I’m flooded with memories. My father never wanted us to make a big deal of his birthday. He never wanted to be the centre of attention and, as for surprise parties, he was not a fan.

My mother and I respected his wishes up to a point. We never even thought about throwing him a surprise party or any other kind of party. We did, however, insist on a small celebration — either just the three of us or a very small group of our immediate family — either at our house or at a restaurant. But there was never a birthday cake with candles or the singing of happy birthday. He wouldn’t have liked it, or enjoyed himself, so what would have been the point of making him miserable on his birthday? Cards, however, were allowed.

We always racked our brains trying to figure out what to get him. It wasn’t easy because he wasn’t someone who desired a lot and had what he wanted or felt he needed. Out of desperation, we’d sometimes ask him if there was something he wanted and his answer was always the same: “I have everything I want, I don’t need anything. Don’t waste your money.”

Sometimes the Universe helped us. Tickets for a play or a concert would go on sale around his birthday and if it was something we knew he’d like, we bought tickets for it. Or he’d mention that he’d ordered shirts or a sweater or ties or some other item and my mother would call and make arrangements to pay for whatever it was before he had a chance to do it himself; and he’d be told, when he went to pick the stuff up that his wife and daughter had already paid the bill.

One year the TV conked out just before his birthday, so that was a no-brainer. My father loved golf so there were times when we resorted to golf balls and golf club covers, gloves, golf umbrellas and the like. Not as creative as we would have liked, but at least we knew they’d get used. We made charitable donations in his name and occasionally, when we just couldn’t come up with anything we liked, we gave him a birthday gift IOU — and then we’d wait for him to either mention something he wanted or we’d find the perfect gift when we weren’t looking for one and we’d get it for him.

I fully expect that my mother is still making sure he celebrates his birthday. And I’m sure she’s still asking him what he wants and my dad is still insisting there’s nothing he needs. Happy Birthday Dad!!

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