Lake Superior, Grand Marais, MN
Grand Marais Chamber of Commerce
On April 13th I drove five hours to see my dad. I had the glee of a child. It was my 68th birthday and I'm rich enough to still have my dad. The miles from the Twin Cities to northern MN flew by.
On May 11, one day after my mother's birthday on the celestial level, my dad turns 100.5. There will be a cake and humble celebration. If you think I can comprehend the span of time in which he's lived--you would be wrong because I can't.
Since my dad sleeps a lot--he wasn't up when I got there. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon, and he was resting. Willard was asleep. I went in and started to sing my own birthday song to our party of two. He awoke happily; he was instantly elated to see me and joined into the silliness of the moment. (It reminds me of a day over twenty years ago when I ran into my mother at our local K-Mart. Her face was radiant. It was like she more than won the Blue Light Special. No, she had won the lottery.)
There aren't a long line of people who want to join you in a dance on the day you were born. But I knew we'd make music together: this was my dad.
I said we had to celebrate and would he come with me! He was game, after all he spent a life in sales, and he knew a sales pitch when he heard one.
The Blue Water Cafe was closed so we made the stairs at the Gunflint Tavern. He ordered a gyro sandwich because I told him mother loved them. But he didn't know what to do with the Greek-wrapped sandwich on his plate when it was placed in front of him. Still, he ate it as best he could. The tooth pic holding it together puzzled him.
We had a fruit cobbler as I felt I didn't need all the sugar in their no doubt, man-sized carrot cake. (Indeed, I felt my dad would faint over the price.)
Over my few days on the Shore as we call it (short for North Shore), the list of happiness was a list of little things. He loved seeing his old '99 Buick Century; even more, he was delirious to sit in it. It was like seeing and being with an old friend. His old polka tapes still sat in the console he'd purchased to hold coffee and change.
Every day was a love-fest as I didn't drive north in the winter months. We would talk often, sometimes even he calling me. But nothing could match the promised "forehead kisses" given in person.
On perhaps the most outstanding day of my short visit, we did make it to the Blue Water Cafe for the blueberry pancakes he loves so much. It used to be a stack of three, but now it's one blueberry pancake, three strips of bacon, and syrup (warmed, thank you). You are special at 100!
The topper after our brunch was taking my brother's suggestion to swing into the Dairy Queen. He didn't like how I pulled in, but that's all right--shades of years ago. I ran inside and purchased two small vanilla ice cream cones. I delivered it to him as if I was on skates at a car-hop through his lowered window.
Then we drove to where the Coast Guard station is situated and looked at the idyllic Grand Marais harbor. He was out of his mind. He insisted he hadn't had a cone in YEARS, while I know my brother has taken him there in recent times.
I cautioned him to keep licking the cone or it could get the best of him. Then he expressed his joy as only he could:
I feel twenty-five years younger, he said.
See what a simple cone can do?