This month my Dad would have had a milestone birthday. He would have been 80 on December 9th. It has been over 20 years since he died and yet on holidays or my children's milestones I still miss him. This fact alone would have surprised me at one point in my life for ours was not a smooth relationship.
My Dad and I had what I have termed a great, wonderful love you Daddy relationship when I was small, a what and yes I know I know I will do nothing right relationship in my late teens, a I will judge you as you judge me Father early twenties and I miss you and thank you because I loved you Dad relationship since I made peace with that middle period.
I cannot believe that the man who loved a party more than anyone I know is not around to celebrate this milestone birthday. Since he is not around I thought I would celebrate it publicly for him with a party in the virtual world of blogs.
So after years of wondering where to have this party the venue has been chosen. It is a small Romanian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens. Not the more "popular" Casa Romana but a smaller one. This is chosen for the familiarity that it will have for a man who loved the United States with a passion and patriotism rarely seen, so much so that he tried to runaway to it when he was 9 to it (until he missed his Mom and went home), but whose soul still had that Romanian spirit. The food will be familiar, there will be a band and he will of course own the latest iPhone loaded with playlists. The food will not be diabetic friendly bring on the carbs and meats people this is a celebration. There will be too many appetizers, too many entrees because a good Romanian party must have too many of these in order to ensure that every guest finds something to like. The place will also have been chosen to fit my father's philosophy that you do not have an end time to a party - this baffled him with weddings in the States - after all how do you tell people go home when they are still raising a toast and dancing? So this party will start at 7 pm, he will be told that it starts at 6 so he can be there by 7:30, and it will go on until the last person has left.
The music, oh many weeks will have been spent making playlists to play. My Dad loved new electronics so I think the world of MP3s would have thrilled him. Finding songs from his youth, in Romanian, in Italian, in Spanish, French and of blues and rock and roll. Oh yes there will be Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, some big band and Elvis (def Elvis) along with any newer songs he may like from the radio (which he will call me and ask me the name of). The party will have him dancing with every woman in the place and in a circle because this 80 year old Dad is the 40 year old energy Dad I remember.
He will tell jokes, some off color, and deliver them with his excellent sense of timing. He will be proud of me (because by now he sees that though I did not become the doctor he told me to be I still did well) and tell other people about my wonderful sons (they have his sense of fun, music loving, humor and they are BOYS - a big plus for him) and whatever number wife will be there (the man liked the idea of marriage - what can I tell you) my Mom and her husband will be there too - an truce has long since been called between them and in the end she can still appreciate his sense of love of life since she does not have to live with him.
During the night there will be political arguments that trust me make John Bohner eating with Nancy Pelosi look like a Match.com date gone well. There will be curses and insults and "what do you knows" thrown around - it will intimidate the husbands and wives who are not Romanian that we the children have married and brought to this party - and eventually there will be some wife who ends the nonsense with that way they have always done it. There will be much shaking of the head at the "liberal" kids who "know nothing", have been "brainwashed" with their growing democratic ideas, who will see that this is how it all started with stupid, talk and BOOM the Iron Curtain - after all Democrats, shudder for this group they want government to take over... ahhhhhh!!!!!
There will be poker possibly as the party is winding down for those who know my father loved to play. There will be more food and more music and the wine will be flowing - now it will not be any wine that Wine Spectator would even have heard of but it will be "spritz" - wine with seltzer and it will keep them from being too drunk and last much longer. Speaking of drinking there will be a toast, with crying and a memory, a mention of someone who has died and how much they would have liked to be there, a moment when they left Romania, a moment when they first became American, more crying almost every time someone raises their glass to drink. We Romanians are big toast makers and emotional.
As the night is winding down he will have a piece of his favorite - Creme Caramel - and more toasts including many from him thanking all who came and all who have passed in his life. Regardless of the number of guests he will have made each one feel as though they were special. At the end the tables will be a mess and as waiters clean up, a few die hard friends will still be there -- there will be some very old Romanian music playing and it will make you cry, even if you do not speak the language (point of contention for some of these folks at how few of their grandchildren speak it "but what can you do we moved here so maybe it is for the best" said with a deep Romanian accent (do not imagine Bella Lugosi he was Hungarian accent different).
Thank you all for coming, for the gifts I am sure my Dad will love (especially the gag ones - he once sent a pair of dentures to a very vain friend who was turning 40 something, wrapped magnificently) and he will be content because he thrived in this setting.
Happy 80th Birthday Dad - how I wish I could have actually thrown you this party. Happy Birthday and thank you for teaching me to love all these things so much too. Happy Birthday and I miss you -- La Multi Ani !!!