Yesterday was my dad's 84th birthday. I did not call him. I did not send him a present. Yeah, I feel bad about it. I sent him a birthday card, a post card, and his regular letter. I briefly considered sending him a potted plant, but when I asked Ben what he thought about that idea, he quickly vetoed it. And he was right. Last spring I took my dad some branches of blooming forsythia in a vase of water. They sat for weeks on his radiator until I removed them. Needless to say, they were quite dried out and dead by that time. I don't know why he left them like that, but he did. Maybe he figured I put them there, I could move them.
Dad doesn't make it easy. There is nothing he needs, but more importantly, there is nothing he wants. Last year, every time I went to visit him, I took him something. A new sweater. A beautiful quilt for his bed, which even Dad thought looked quite pretty. Soft, colored t-shirts so that he would quit wearing his white undershirts to dinner. I never saw him wear the sweater or the t-shirts. He returned the quilt to me and told me it was too heavy to sleep under. So he wears old sweaters over his undershirts, just like he always has. His bed is covered by a cheap, unzipped sleeping bag from Walmart. I never took him flowers again, needless to say.
Ben tells me all the time I should call my dad, and he is probably right. But I don't want to call my dad. He has never been good at talking on the phone, and he is even worse now. He has no small talk, nor is he interested in mine. That is why, really, the letters I send him on a regular basis are the perfect way to communicate with him. He can react to them - or not - any way he wants, and I won't ever know it.
These are my rationalizations for not calling my dad or sending him a gift for his birthday. Pick whichever one(s) work for you. They don't quite do it for me. On the positive side, today is the last day of February. Hooray for that, anyway.