On the last day of July, I looked at the calendar and realized it was my father’s birthday. If he were alive, he’d be 105. He’d probably say that was a good number and place a bet on it.
The strange thing is that here in Carpenter Country, we hardly ever mention him. Most likely his name rarely comes up because he seldom spoke about himself.
I learned of his early life in dribs and drabs: He had four brothers and one sister. He studied to be a draftsman, but worked with his father as a chimneysweep. He came to America and could only find a job as a busboy.
When I was young, he taught me to swim, ride a bike and drive a car. During my teens, we didn’t get along, and I confess to spending more than a few hours disliking him intensely. But time moved on, he grew mellow–or I grew up.
Either way, I discovered he had a gambler’s jolly heart.
Point him at a horse race and he’d smile for the rest of the day. Suggest a poker game and he’d chuckle all the while he was winning your money. Give him a lottery ticket and there was no containing his glee.
The morning I noticed the date on the calendar, I wished him a happy birthday…and good luck wherever he was.
In my imagination, I saw him grin, as he answered in his slightly German accent, “Where’s the cake? I bet I can blow out all the candles!”