I was talking (or typing, whatever) with Angela today and I mentioned that my dad's birthday is coming up on the 27th. I told her that my dad is going to be 44 this year and her reaction was "wow he's so young!" I guess that's true, though I don't think about it often. More often than not I think about how old my dad is getting.
Now before you comment-stone-me-to-death I'm not saying that 44 is old. It's just that when I think of my dad I always picture him in my head like he was when I was a little girl. My first crystal clear memories of him are from when I was about three or four and my dad was either 22 or 23...he might not be old now, but he has definitely gotten a LOT older since then.
When I was a kid my dad was a rocker. He used to wear tight t-shirts with holes in them and leather vests and jeans that were so ripped it was only the reinforced seams that held them together. My dad had long, shaggy hair and an earring (I guess he still technically does though I can't remember seeing him wear it for years). He used to drive 85 miles an hour in his 300z with the moon roof off. By the time I was 9 years old I had still never heard of Raffi but I knew all of the lyrics to Cheap Trick, Ozzy, Nirvana, Blue Oyster Cult, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, The Breeders, and Alanis Morisette. My dad was saving up for two things-a Harley-Davidson and a huge Celtic back tattoo.
Don't misunderstand me, my dad was a responsible parent. He paid his child support and drove from Arizona to Washington every other weekend for visitation. He listened to me talk, and taught me how to be well behaved, and blew bubbles with me in the yard...but he was still very young. A rock-n-roller at heart-this is still how I picture him in my head whenever I talk about him, and that's why it's so surprising every time I see him and I see how much older he is.
My dad has his Harley now and he rides it often during the summer, but he does it wearing his Levis and cowboy boots. His hair is short and is graying in a very distinguished way around his temples and in his goatee. Tired of putting contacts in and out, my dad wears his thick, oval, wire rimmed glasses nearly all the time now. He still wears t-shirts and a leather jacket-he bought them at JC Penny-but he is just as likely to wear a button down shirt. He listens mostly to jazz and country, though I've heard him break out the BOC every once in a while, and drives a big pick up when he's not on the bike.
Even more than what he wears and listens to, my dad's attitude has mellowed so much-especially since he turned forty. My dad may still go to the gym four days a week, but he also naps on the couch in the afternoons. He has gone from being weary of the word "grandpa" to actively attempting to train the children to make that be their first word. He's so much more open and affectionate now, and a lot less pig headed and grumpy (though I still wouldn't let him carry a concealed hand gun in traffic).
My dad has always been a good guy, but in the last twenty years he has grown. I suppose that's only natural of course-twenty years will change anybody. Still I will always picture him in my head as the Metallica-blaring butt rocker he once was. That's why it's so shocking to me to see him as he is now...why he seems so old-compared to how he is in my head.
I wonder if the kidlets will think of me that way. When I think about it I'm sure they will-If Monkey remembers me how I was when he was three that means I will be permanently burned into his brain at the age of 21. I'm not sure how I feel about that, though I certainly hope that he'll look back on me as fondly (and as kindly) as I look back on my dad in his youth. We all get older, and we'll all change, but what matters I think is making good memories with our loved ones no matter what stage of our lives we are in.