My mother, who died in 1999, once observed that the birthdays in my house came fast and furious. She always sent presents for my three sons, of course, and on the heels of a bountiful Christmas she laid in birthday presents for the middle child in January and the oldest and youngest in February. None of the three lads has spoken to a Lamberton relative since 2003 because of the divorce--that's a hallmark of the Western phenomenon called Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS.
Half a century ago, long before such unnaturalness was visited upon our society by "advanced" thought about the role and voice of genders in our familes, I read a book I received from my parents called Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody. It was about a lad growing up on a hardscrabble ranch just outside Denver around the turn of the last century, a boy who came to appreciate his ailing father as his dad, a fount of wisdom, capability and morality, approached the end of his life.
I never forgot the scene near the end where the boy's father died. "Father looked so bad it frightened me when I went into the room. I couldn't think of a thing to say, and I guess Father was so sick he couldn't either. I had found a coil of inch rope [on my walk]. I could only think to tell Father about the rope. He raised his hand up a little, and I took it. His voice was almost a whisper, and he said, 'You take care of it, partner, you may need it.' That was the last thing I ever heard him say."
That boy's parting from his father always haunted me all my life. I was there when my ailing father died in 1986, and I could only think to say to him as he breathed his last, "God bless you, Dad." That was the last thing he ever heard me say.
I read Little Britches again last year and remain haunted still at the thought of a father passing and a son not being able to think of a thing to say beyond, "Look at the rope I found," or "God bless you, Dad."
My oldest son, who enters his late twenties on his birthday next week, hasn't spoken to me since the day the superstar quarterback Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl. Since then Peyton's little brother Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls. I no longer use this blog to invite Jimmy to join me for lunch at a restaurant on his birthday, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Easter, or July 4th or Memorial Day ... you get the idea. Jimmy was a minor. a mere child, when his will was overborne by the grotesque manipulations of his Mother and her coterie of "professionals" and he ceased communicating with me or any of my relatives, but now he is a fully mature adult (I have to suppose).
Jimmy knows where I live, at least for the foreseeable future (he pointedly dropped in to see a neighbor, but not me, a few years ago), and my work number hasn't changed in over two decades (just call the FTC and ask for me). He can contact me if he wants.
Little Britches in Jimmy's box in the basement for him. Happy birthday, son. I love you and wish you a long and happy life.