For months my brothers and

Sep 11, 2001

For months my brothers and I talked back and forth about what we could do as a big surprise celebration to honor our father on his 60th birthday, but with us in five different states, and Dad in a sixth, we just couldn’t figure out when and where such a celebration could occur. In the end, we gathered for a conference call, the first we’ve done together. Dot called in and put a surprised Dad on the phone. After we sang a horrible rendition of Happy Birthday, we bantered for twenty minutes, sometimes telling Dad what a remarkable man and loving father he is, and occasionally shutting up long enough to hear one or other of us sharing some news. Matt told us he had a live band in the other room, a party just about to start. Chris was groggy from a drive to Dallas, where he and Elizabeth are babysitting Biz’s sister’s kids. Joel talked about his impending unemployment and hoped-for job offer. And Nick recounted his day in class (he’s studying to be an emergency medical technician) and afternoon with the volunteer fire department: they’d been busy, and among their calls was a motorcycle fatality on a mountain road, and a woman who fell off her camel and broker her hip—seems Virginia City, Nevada, is home to annual camel races. See this website for more about that! So Dad was surprised, and though he might be feeling anxious about his new decade, the man is healthy, alive, a globetrotter, and generous with his energies. He celebrated his birthday by running 14 miles with the Honolulu Marathon Running Club yesterday, and probably a 14-hour day in his law office today fighting the evil insurance companies and complacent state regulatory agencies. Keep up the race, Dad. In his spirit, Erin and little Anna and I went Friday night to the North Carolina Museum of Art to watch an outdoor showing of the film Gladiator. What a pleasant evening on the lawn, even if I knelt in dog shit as we were about to leave. At one point in the film, the screen went dark. An announcer asked the owners of a BMW and a Porsche Carrera to move their cars, because they were blocking a Lexus. The entire crowd erupted in laughter. Later, as we filed out of the amphitheater, I noticed a poster announcing the October 3rd concert of Youssou N’Dour, an Afropop superstar that I’ve been waiting 10 years to see. Then, in Sunday’s News & Observer, a six-month arts calendar listed the concerts of Baaba Maal (another Senegalese star, who I caught in Oberlin six years ago), Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Laurie Anderson, Jubilant Sykes, and a host of bluegrass bands. Man, was I chastened. I thought I was moving to an outpost of culture. Dad had suggested for months that I would find lots of music and art and entertainment here. He was right. At sixty, he’s certainly wise. Thanks Dad. I love you.

Anton Zuiker

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