This week was my birthday. For some it would have been seen as a significant one. For me it was really just another day. I’ve never been into birthdays, not least my own. Rosie loved birthdays. She had been planning her own 40th birthday party (on 15th October 2016) way before she died. A few days ago Natalie and I found the list of people she was intending to invite. Rosie had long since told me what the party was going to be. Fittingly for my beautiful wife two of her favourite things were to figure large in the evening: sushi and champagne. Rosie was one classy lady.
Her love of birthdays extended to all of those around her, mine included. Birthday mornings in our house, probably much like any other house, were raucous affairs. The many cards and presents she had secreted in various hiding places around our bedroom would be whipped out and neatly piled on the bed. Then the children (irrespective of whose birthday it was) would rip all the paper off.
This year was a different affair. There was no elaborate sequence of presents from Rosie nor any card. She used to delight in finding just the right card for me, and she always wrote the absolutely perfect message. Even though she was married to a miserable curmudgeon she was always able to get the right reaction from me. No, this year I had a handful of cards, and presents from family and the children (admittedly still ripped open by the Natalie and Joseph). I’m an impossible person to buy for, mainly because I never want anything. But again, somehow, Rosie always had the knack of buying me the perfect gift.
The children seem to have inherited that knack. As well as a “Best Dad in the World” mug they had each produced a beautiful painting for me (photos of them below). Natalie’s showed her, Joey and me standing beneath a rainbow with a small rose to the right of the picture. When I asked Tali why she hadn’t painted mummy, she simply said “Because she’s not here”. Fair enough I suppose.
Now I’m no psychologist but what Joey painted was mind-blowing. Again you can see it below, but I’ll repeat his description of it to me. “It’s Tali with a rain cloud over her head, me (Joey) with a rainbow over me, you (that’ll be me) with the sun shining on you, and mummy with her hand over Tali’s head to protect her. And there’s a thunderstorm over all of us”. How does a four-year old paint that with such clarity of meaning?
As an aside, as I sat in synagogue this morning I was reading the English translation of Eshet Chayil, a song that every Jewish husband is supposed to sing to his wife at the beginning of Shabbat. I’d sung it a few times to Rosie over the years, especially on significant occasions. Reading the English it seemed to take on a greater significance. The lines which stood out were:
“A woman of strength, who can find? Her worth is far beyond pearls. Her husband’s heart trusts in her…she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life…Her children rise and call her happy; her husband also praises her. Many women have excelled, but you surpass them all”.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.