If I made a list of the happiest days of my life, it would be dishearteningly short. There is only a handful of days I can look back on and remember as a day when my happiness hit a vibrant high.
One of the best was a simple event. On June 15, 2014, I wanted to do something for Father’s Day. I don’t usually have a bash on my birthday, and my boys’ birthdays have been fun days, but never Disneyland level.
On that June day, I had both my boys over for dinner. When I have people over for dinner, I anticipate it with pleasure. But, I am a demanding cook, and there’s always some worry about how things will turn out.
Not that day. I barbecued chicken, which was delicious despite little effort. We had potato chips and salad. It was sunny, mild, and we all sat on our back patio — my partner and my sons, John-Mark, 27, and Max, 20. The conversation was effortless, with lots of laughs. We talked of memories and watched my crazy dog, Maybe, an Italian Greyhound, romp around the yard.
What did we say, specifically? I can’t remember a thing. I only recall the conversation was easy-flowing, we laughed a lot, and everyone was happy.
I wish I could have a future full of those kinds of Father’s Days, but I can’t, now that Max has left us.
Today, I took my son John-Mark, now 33, to the Charlotte NC airport after his first visit to my home in North Carolina. I wanted to pack the trip with stellar sightseeing and fun times. And, we did have a great time, but like my cooking efforts, I am hard on myself about being host to vacationers. I want the most, the biggest, the best, the sudden happy surprise that becomes talked-about for years. To me, it seemed like a “regular” visit, considering excitement level.
He had a great time, though. Even though we live states apart, we can pick up a conversation at a second’s notice. We can talk for hours and never be bored with one another. My happiness stretched with ease, filling the entire time he was here.
We hugged at the drop-off spot at the airport, said our “I love you’s” and I drove away. Just like that, he was gone and the car was quiet.
On my way home, I stopped in a town for coffee to go at McDonald’s. Inside, the workers were laughing at someone’s antics. My mind swept back to when I was 19, working in a Hardee’s. All of life was before us, and yes, we were working in a fast-food job, but the future was so bright, and so long.
Walking from the counter with my coffee, I passed the Playplace area, empty at 3 p.m. Mental glimpses of my boys, in the ball crawl, wafted around me. I could almost hear their bright laughter and feel my own satisfied smile.
I stepped out into the sun and thought, I am 61 years old. It seems now I look more to the past than the future. But there are things I still want to do, and happy days I want to have. I said a silent prayer that I have a bright future, one that seemed at least somewhat long, before me. There must be more happy days out there somewhere.