Today I face another milestone without Michael – his 59th birthday. I’ve watched the date on the calendar get closer and closer. I’ve thought back to his last few birthdays – his last three, in particular, each one spent in a hospital room. But I’ve decided that there should be no tears on his birthday. I instead choose to celebrate him rather than mourn him today. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a story that Andrew recalled for me recently.
Several years ago, Michael bought tickets for him and Andrew to go to a basketball game – the New Orleans Hornets, at the time. He had planned it to be an evening for just the two of them to enjoy, even though for Michael to drive downtown, through all the pre-game traffic, park and then WALK to the Arena was a real test of his patience. But they got there, found their appointed seats and got ready to enjoy the game.
A few minutes into the game Michael decided they needed some refreshments and decided to stand up, make his way down the aisle and over to the concession stand. What he didn’t know was that when he had sat down in the seat, the seat handle had somehow managed to get stuck inside the pocket of his khaki pants. When Michael hurriedly stood up, Andrew says he felt the seats strangely lurch forward. The seat handle and his pants’ pocket struggled but his khakis lost the fight. Suddenly Michael was standing there with his pants ripped from the pocket down to his knee.
“Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I promise you this is what he said, but only because he didn’t want everybody to hear the words going through his mind. Andrew immediately got a glimpse of what had happened and reports being mortified. But what Michael said next will forever go down in our family’s history. “Let’s go get some nachos.”
And Michael proceeded to walk to the concession stand with his pants ripped wide open, exposing not only his leg, but his signature white boxers as well. “Dad!”, Andrew said, “Your pants are all ripped!” “I know. But I don’t think they sell any here in my size. And I paid good money for these tickets!” And so Michael proceeded not only to enjoy his nachos and the rest of the basketball game, but a good stiff breeze as well.
I tell this story to show you the kind of man I celebrate today. A man who didn’t let the little inconveniences of life keep him from enjoying time with his family. A man who made up for his lack of fashion sense with his great sense of humor. A man whose legacy is to help us laugh at ourselves and the curveballs life sometimes throws at us.
So as Michael has another birthday, I plan to celebrate! With friends and family and laughter and good food. There will be no time for mourning this Monday. And no tears – except, of course, from laughter.
Happy Birthday Michael! I love you and miss you every day.