Today is my father’s 70th birthday. It is quite a milestone but I wasn’t able to spend it with him. In fact, I haven’t been able to wish him a happy birthday in person for about 20 years! In the television biz, November is a “sweeps” month so I never even consider asking for time off. I’m certain he understands. He spent over three decades operating our family restaurant and never took a single vacation.
My parents are retired and settled in Northern California. They watch me everyday via the live streaming of Fox Chicago News at Noon online. The rest of the time, my mom claims she’s yelling. My father is hard of hearing and still refuses to get fitted for a hearing aid.
As I do on many days after the newscast, I call my parents on the way home. Today’s call is imperative since it’s my father’s birthday. No one’s answering. I call again. No answer. Within minutes, my mother calls back to report that she was upstairs and my father could not hear the phone ringing. In Chinese she tells me, “I want to buy him a hearing aid for his birthday but he won’t go!”
She puts him on the phone. I loudly wish him a happy birthday and ask what he’s up to. Other drivers on the Kennedy probably think I’m having a heated argument with someone. My father responds by asking about my work. I don’t think he heard what I asked and as I’m sharing my news he says, “Okay, here’s mom.”
“We have to go now” she declares, “It’s half-price dim sum today at the tea house!” There’s always plenty of yelling there, too.