Today is my father’s 85th birthday. My partner,
Georgia, and I wanted to do something special with my parents to celebrate, and
she suggested that we take them to Mary
Stuart. That turned out to be a great idea!
This past Saturday at the Broadhurst Theatre on West 44th Street, we saw a magnificent performance. Janet McTeer (in the title role, as the imprisoned Queen of Scotland) and Harriet Walter (as Elizabeth, the Queen of England) were both sensational. McTeer’s voice—thrillingly resonant and flexible, supple and warm one moment, ferocious the next—was, by itself, worth the price of admission. Just thinking, days later, about the speech she makes to Hanna, her nurse, and Melvil, her loyal steward, before being hauled off to the block gives me a lump in my throat.
But the point of this post isn’t to review an amazing piece of theatre. It’s to wish my father a happy birthday! And also to say how lucky I feel that both of my parents are still with us, still healthy and active and engaged with the world, still able to travel into the city from their home on Long Island to enjoy a wonderful play and a delicious meal.
My father was a child during the Great Depression and served as a naval officer in the Pacific during World War II. He and my mother married—this September, they will have been married for fifty-four years—and they raised three sons. Dad had a long career in banking, but he always said he felt he would have made a good teacher, and he is a good teacher. He taught me to read music and play the piano when I was five or six, and he nurtured in me a life-long love of music and art, for which I will always be grateful.
To say my father and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on
political and religious matters would be an understatement, but our disagreements have taught me a lot about all kinds of things over the years. And one of the things I've learned just in the past few years is that people continue to change. My father, at the age of 85, is still
absorbing new information, still growing and changing (I hope I'll be able to say the same about myself at his age -- in fact, I hope I'll honestly be able to say the same next week). Through his local AARP
chapter, he’s become active as an advocate for health care reform, which is great. Even
better, on our previous visit with my parents, about a month ago, he astonished
Georgia and me by declaring that he had officially withdrawn—unregistered himself—from
the Republican Party (!!!). You have to understand, in my world, this is roughly
equivalent to the Pope deciding that he’s no longer a Catholic. Now, my father hasn’t
actually had a full-blown conversion experience and become a Democrat… yet. But that’s ok; I’m an independent,
In any case, it’s nice to have this platform this week from which to greet my parents and wish my father a happy birthday. I’m not always the most grateful character in the world, but lately, I find myself counting my blessings.