Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This one's for Rick.

So, a birthday came and went last week when I’d hardly the time to acknowledge it. And, as I fully believe in giving pieces of myself as gifts (that just doesn’t sound right) and celebrating those close to me when their celebrated days come around, I felt a little sheepish for having it come and go and be a day and some hours after the fact before something triggered in my brain: I remembered a touch too late and I wanted to punch myself right in the face as a result. (But I didn’t.)

I guess I could say I am writing out some words now because I simply didn’t get them out before. They ended up being too many to put in a card, anyway, so they may as well live here. And, as this is exactly the sort of thing he wouldn’t much want to hear or even expect, maybe that’s all the more reason for me to do it. Here goes …

My stepdad Rick hit the old age of 61 or something last week. He’s been in my life for going on 20 years now. And, if he’s going to follow in his mom’s lead (she’s pushing 100 and is strong as an ox), he should continue being a part of my life for a good many more. I like that thought. After all, he’s one of the few consistencies I can find comfort in.

When I think on him now, pieces of memories bubble to the surface. I recall late night drives as a teen that had him quizzing me on “Who sings this song?” and offering me cherished loonies once I came back with the right answers. I see eyes close and a smile come to his face when he talks fondly of Leo Fu’s drool-inducing salt ‘n pepper shrimp in Calgary, a testament to his highly refined culinary tastes. I even recall that once, when someone asked “Who let the dogs out?” only to have him respond with a few deep dog barks, that I could never again hear that nearly cool song (for a time, anyway) with the same ears.

More stuff? Rick is just about the very best at preparing meat that I know (this includes restaurants and others) and his flank steak will actually melt in your mouth. He loves my mom. He doles out advice on a regular basis that I find myself taking to heart and even sometimes following. He taught me what a budget is and still believes I have some semblance of one. He’s a man who loves God. He is still learning how to improve himself and will even compare notes with me on occasion. He laughs at the absurd birthday cards I pick out for him that I already know are very, very funny. And he’s the only one in my life to harp on me to get a book out of my system already, not just “someday,” but “someday very soon.”

Lives are lived a little differently now, as he’s got his ever-growing list of daily life necessities to accomplish (as I do mine), but I’m glad he’ll take my phone calls when I’ve a burning question only he can answer (and even if I don’t). I’m glad he’ll take chances on a sandwich I recommend, only to reel in how good it tastes afterward. I’m mostly just glad we’re part of this whole adventure together. More grateful than glad, even.

I’ve never been able to call him my dad, as I’ve had one of those before him. But, once I got around that and grew up a little, I discovered a close friend who sees me in a light I like. I’d like to even think I return him the favor.

And there you have it. Happy birthday, Rick.

No comments: