April 1, 2011

∴ 46 Verses

My mom has sung "happy birthday" to me forty-six times. It's a tradition she began when I was, well, one. It expanded when my sister came along. Every year, wherever we were, we'd get a phone call from home with a pair of voices singing the tune. But it was my mom's instigation that continued it every year.

We've continued the tradition. I sing it to my wife, she sings it to me, my sister and I always exchange a call on each other's day and now I have a niece and a nephew to sing to, too. And of course, my mom's birthday always involves calls from my sister and me, singing the old tune. It's a silly thing, but it puts voice to a deeper bond between us. I expect to sing that song to these people until one or the other of us is no more.

I've missed hearing my dad's voice on the line these past fourteen years. He had a deep, rich voice and always seemed to get a kick out of singing the song for me. I can hear his voice, now, and it brings back memories of childhood birthdays on Long Island.

The calls still come from my mom. Hearing her voice this morning, and thinking on my slowly advancing years, it occurred to me that some year I'll have a birthday come along when I won't hear her voice, singing that tune for me. I'll dearly miss it when that day comes. No-one else has sung it to me forty-six times.