Saturday, April 30, 2011

The True Story of My Dad’s 75th Birthday


Clear back in the spring of ‘95, my father celebrated his 75th birthday. On his actual birthday I had been teaching onboard the USS Detroit out in the Persian Gulf, so we waited a couple months til I returned. My brother Boyd flew in from CO, my brother Bruce came in from Athens, Ohio and my younger brother Mark drove in from Kansas (I was in an apartment awaiting another teaching assignment, so I just drove across town). We managed to get thru 3 meals without a single fistfight, which is a Mitchell family record.

A week or two after that, my three brothers and I all received a Xerox of a 3x5 index card. Dad had written one note and then Xeroxed it—there’s nothing that quite produces family warmth like receiving a Xerox, now is there? Dad informed us he’d given it a lot of thought and had decided to share his feelings that what he got in the way of a birthday celebration was so different from what he expected that he was never going to mention birthdays again until his 100th. He added a postscript that he was enclosing a check to reimburse two of us (Boyd and Mark) for their travel expenses. To this day, I do not know what my father expected in the way of a birthday celebration. Maybe we all should have jumped from our seats and yelled “Hallelujah!” 25 times every time he walked through the door. In any event there are just two things I am certain of: 1) dad will still be around in 2026 for his 107th birthday, and 2) he will no doubt be even more temperamental then than he is now.