Birthdays are often thought of negatively, an ugly reminder that Father Time is pushing you toward old age. But birthdays are not guaranteed and should, therefore, be celebrated. Old age is a result of outlasting many far worthier candidates for no worthier merit than drawing breath when others are denied the privilege. Why do I survive when Lisa will not?
Which brings me to the issue of how to celebrate Lisa’s birthday on Saturday, June 13th? It is not a reminder that Father Time is pushing her toward old age. It is this time an ugly reminder that birthdays are not guaranteed and are sometimes difficult to celebrate. Rather than presents and festivities, let me offer thanks and apologies.
Thank you, Lisa for first agreeing to go out with me when we were assistant store managers at Woolworths in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, at a time in the 1980’s when jobs were slim and women’s shoulder pads were large.
Thank you for staying up all night with me on Thanksgiving and agreeing with me to quit Woolworths because we both knew we were better than that; creatively, intellectually, and professionally.
Thank you for saying yes to the most important and terrifying question I’ve ever asked at La Petit Auberge, in Newport, RI in 1988. It was a perfect meal, a perfect evening and you were the perfect fiancé. Oh, how I wish there was the internet back then! I would have told the world!
Thank you for walking down the aisle of the Carmelite Chapel in Newport on September 9, 1989 to become my wife, or more importantly, letting me become your husband. You planned the day perfectly, including the weather. I’ve always wanted to take a time machine back to our reception to relive it as a guest. It went too fast and I missed too much. Wow, you were beautiful!
Thank you for sticking with me those first few years. I know it wasn’t easy. I know I wasn’t easy. For that, I’m sorry and forever regret the time spent arguing when I wish now I had the time back. But we made it and it formed the diamond hard phalanx we would use to fight anyone and anything that came against us.
Thank you for giving me the two greatest gifts in the world, one a perfect combination of your creativity and your beauty and the other a combination of your passion and your adorable, hooked nose. Together, they represent the best of us and stand at the precipice of adulthood with the entire world in the palm of their hands. And they stand there because you spent every day developing their confidence and talents. The world is theirs. The world needs them. On behalf of the world, thank you.
Thank you for standing by me while I struggled. I’m sorry. I wish life had a User’s Manual. How easy life would be if we could turn to page 37 or if there was an Appendix for Troubleshooting. But there isn’t. You were always there even when I didn’t want it, always my customer support when tech support should have been called.
Thank you for enduring the barbaric attacks on your body we dare call “cancer treatment” over the past eight years, all in an effort to be here for the kids and me. Even with that noble goal, I know that had the tables been turned, I would have curled up into a little ball and gone away long ago. Women endure things that men could never conjure in their worst nightmares.
Thank you for everything. You will not pass away. You will have been murdered by treasonous cells within your own body, suicidal cells replicating out of control, killer cells.
Thank you for creating my family, for taking and creating a new branch of the Fucile family tree. You have cultivated it and left it to your children as a proud and honorable name infused with all of the sap from the McIntosh bloodline. Shakespeare wrote in King Henry IV, Part II
King: More would I, but my lungs are wasted so
That strength of speech is utterly denied me.
How I came by the crown, O God forgive,
And grant it may with thee in true peace live.
Prince Henry: My gracious liege,
You won it, wore it, kept it, gave it me.
Then plain and right by my possession be,
Which I with more than with a common pain
‘Gainst all the world will rightfully maintain.
And now, Woolworths is gone. La Petit Auberge is gone. The Carmelite Chapel is gone. But although your body may leave us, you will never be gone. You live in each of your children and in my heart. You live in all of the memories of every person upon whom you have made an impression. You were betrayed by your body, but you never betrayed your friends. We love you. I love you. Forever. Thank you.