Forget Halloween. Our family has a much bigger event to celebrate this 31 October – Dad’s 90th birthday – so I took him shopping with Mum this week, not for sticky trick and treats or scary costumes but to get a birthday present for a guy who is forever in blue jeans.
When we hit town Dad walked in to the first clothes shop he saw. With his peak cap on and one hand in his pocket he looked about him. “Where’s the men’s?” he asked.
I took a glance round. We may as well have walked into Hollister only it was brighter. The glaring light dazzled and the hip and trendy assistant didn’t look a day over 16. Not wanting to offend Dad, I smiled at the Harry Styles lookalike and said: “This young man is looking a new pair of jeans.” The assistant looked at Dad and back at me again. “Do you think you would have his size?” I prompted.
“Hmmm…” Standing back he made a stab at measuring Dad with his eye. “I reckon we will need a 32,” he said gaily, but the birthday boy informed him firmly that he would need at least 38. The assistant glanced at me again. I was taken aback too. “You couldn’t be 38?” the assistant quizzed. “By the time he tucks in a vest and a shirt, and a jumper he wouldn’t be far off,” Mum said laughing. So 38 it was but the designer laden shop didn’t cater for a waist past 36. To save face, Dad tried on a couple of pairs but they were of the skinny variety with button up flies so I suggested we head to another shop, one that I remembered from childhood.
An elderly gent approached us. “Can I help you?” he said. “We are looking a pair of jeans.” I said. The retailer checked for size and immediately offered Dad an armful of jeans and an earful of professional advice on quality, cut, shape and colour. Dad examined a black pair. “I don’t think I have black,” he said. “Sure, they’d be a bit different.” He tried them on and bingo! The black jeans were purchased.
I don’t know if he’ll wear the black jeans to his birthday dinner but I do know it will be smart ’n’ casual and a private affair – the way he lives his life – just Mum, our family and his 16 grandchildren. According to the grandchildren (and to me) their granddad is the funniest man on the planet with a twinkle in his eye and a laugh that’s infectious.
Still a farmer (he hasn’t retired yet), country life is his world and his most prized possession, his car. He drives everywhere and attends Mass with his Pioneer pin glinting in his lapel, something that he is very proud of. He eats cornflakes for breakfast, drinks cocoa and always has hot sweets stashed away in his pockets. He listens to the radio and watches The Sunday Game, but when the kids are around he will end up playing cards and games with the older ones and ‘cat and mouse’ with the younger ones, much to their pleasure and pain because when they get caught in his vice they are tickled until they can hardly breathe.
Mum says Dad never worries about a thing. Therein lies the secret of a long healthy life. So, Happy 90th Birthday Dad. May you inspire readers to worry about nothing, laugh hearty, be forever in blue jeans unless they fancy black and, like you, never be afraid to start a new trend.