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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)

TITLE: The Birthday Storm


Today would have been dad’s 54th birthday. It is a Larson family tradition for the family to wake up the birthday victim with a rousing, out of tune rendition of “Happy Birthday to You“. I sit alone here peering out into a raging tempest while feeling one inside. I hum a sad little tune and think, “Why did I stay gone so long?

As I stare out into the Oklahoma spring season storm, I remember how excited my father used to get whenever one headed our way. I can hear his voice even now. “Wow, did you see that bolt of lightening? This is gonna be a good one!”, he would exclaim.

Our home is located close to lake Oolagah. It is nestled between two hills in a thickly wooded rural area not far from Tulsa. Oklahoma storms are known to be vicious. We are in a region known as “Tornado Alley” and the threat of tornados are prevalent during the spring storms. However, dad was never worried about tornados since our house is protected by the hills on either side. As far as I know, there have never been any come close to the house during the 20 years we‘ve lived here.

Night storms are most turbulent here after a very hot and humid day. Dad would often use the day’s sweltering heat as an excuse to prance about in the pelting rain in his underwear like a child. I was always embarrassed for him and figured he was a few cells short of a full brain. Mom worried that he would be hit by lightening. She would plead with him to get back inside and stop acting foolish. “What a way to go!”, he would happily respond, and then beg us all to join him in his freedom folly. Mom would watch him for a few moments as if she were considering his invitation, but none of us ever did join him.

Once we all started moving out, we continued our birthday tradition by phone. After a few years though, I stopped. I was grown and just felt silly continuing the tradition with mom, dad and my sisters; although, my wife and I still do it for each other and our two kids. They are all asleep. I feel so lonely right now sitting here at 2 AM with only the frequent bolt of lightening to shatter the darkness. I feel like I did that time dad went to Alaska to become a fisherman. I was so angry with him! But nobody wanted to hire a 40 year old greenhorn fisherman and he was back home in a month. I wish I had been able to sing to him one last time before he died five years ago.

The great irony is, dad did die the way he imagined would be a “great way to go!” Only he wasn‘t prancing around in a storm. He was playing golf. Folks were pretty amazed that he was hit by lightening on a clear day. Go figure. My dad was always one to go against the grain. It was his wish to be cremated, then to have his ashes buried with a young sapling tree in our yard. Although it is considered against the law in Oklahoma, I managed to gain custody of his remains with a sentimental plea and a $100 dollar bill.

“What? No it can’t be!” I speak the words aloud as my eyes deceive me through the tears now filling my vision like the rain against the sliding glass door. For just a moment as the black night was split by the white flash, I thought I caught a glimpse of him! Dancing like a fool around his tree which has grown to a respectable height by now. Oh God how I wish I had joined him at least once! And I think, “It’s not to late. But what would my wife think if she awoke and caught me? Naw, I’m to old for this kind of foolishness. And what if I get struck by lightening. Oh what the heck, what a way to go!”

As I dance around dads tree in my underwear, I feel the rain wash away the storm inside. I look forward to celebrating a new tradition.

“Happy birthday dad!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight05/31/05
What a wonderful tribute to your dad. It sounds like a lot of fun but I'm a little too afraid of storms to try it.
thanks for sharing this.
dub W06/03/05
We all should remember relatives and friends and write tributes, a lasting memory.
Sally Hanan06/08/05
My husband regularly dances with our two kids in the heavy rain :)We even have photos! Nice writing and you definitely have a writing ministry.
Val Clark06/08/05
You paint a great picture with words, Ron. Glad for you that reconciliation finally came.