Rain falls and the small town of East Meadow is quiet. The view from my living room window is peaceful and the gray sky has given me the prefect reason to be lazy.
My friend The Old Tree stands across the street from my home and I celebrate another year of its endurance. Looking though my front window, I can see a distant water tower poking the belly of the sky above the rooftops.
This has been my view for close to eight years; a view which I thought I would lose on a few occasions. But much like my friend The Old Tree from across the street; I have roots here. I belong exactly where I am. I am a part of this town’s history, and with hope, I plan to be a part of its future.
I will be another year older in exactly seven days.
My wife asked, “What do you want for your birthday?”
Dinner is always nice. A good meal followed by a cake with some candles in it will be fine.
My mother always calls me early on my birthday morning. Over the last few years, her memory has gone through changes. Sometimes she calls the day before and sometimes she calls the day after. But she always calls. And that’s good.
My daughter usually draws a birthday card for me. I like those. I have several of them stuffed in a small box, which I hope to find on a day when I’m older. I believe these cards are windows of memory that will link me to the days when I was able to hold her in one arm and call her “Punky.”
My wife always finds the perfect gift. She knows what to get because she pays attention to my details, and she knows me very well.
Early this morning, I was in the car and out of my house before the sun made its debut. The dawn began to show its face in my rearview mirror as I made my way into the city. I gave thought to my birthday gifts and what I wished they could be.
But of course, my thoughts began to wander, and as the arm lifted at the tollbooth before The Midtown tunnel, I started to create a list of birthday wishes.
I wish I could have five more minutes with The Old Man. There are some people I would like him to meet and things I would love to show him.
I wish I could meet my grandfather because I never did.
It would be nice to sit with him and hear his stories.
Over the years, I have eaten countless meals.
But above all, I remember having lobster lasagna.
That would be good to add to my wish list.
I had rabbit once. And that was good too
I wish I could erase some of the past.
I wish I could relive two days exactly how they were without any change or pause in time.
I wish I could speak to my daughter in her future life. This way I could see who she turns into just in case I miss it.
If I could have anything for my birthday, I would want to rewind the clock for my wife and give her back some of the things she gave up just to be with me.
If I could ask for anything, I think I would ask that she had a few more moments with her father before he passed. I think there are some things she wished she could have told him.
I would add my mother to this list of mine. If I could have anything for my birthday, I would want to see her stand straight again. I would want her pain to stop and the age to leave her face. It’s not easy when Moms get sick. I guess that’s because they’re not supposed to . . .
I never had a birthday party—at least not since I was 13. I never had a surprise party either. But if I did, I suppose my guest list would be as farfetched as my wish list.
After work, I headed home and I thought more about this list.
I thought about the things I want and the things I have.
I have a family.
I have a home.
I have a job.
And I have you.
The things on my birthday list are not sold in stores.
But who knows?
Maybe if I close my eyes tight and wish really hard when I blow out the candles.
It couldn’t hurt.