Thursday, April 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad

Me, age 6, with Mom and Dad

My father's 90th birthday is tomorrow and I am so grateful that I will be able to celebrate the day with him. He is a remarkable person.

When I was five days old, he flew out from New York to San Francisco on his own to bring me home to my new family. This is a poem I wrote for him, in honor of the story of my homecoming and in honor of my unbelievable good fortune to be raised by and be part of such a loving family.

Happy Birthday, Dad. You are my hero.

First Class Ticket

We must have seemed odd traveling companions--
a flustered father and his newborn
fumbling with diapers
on a flight across three time zones.

In 1963 fathers were distant creatures,
slightly larger than life. They did not fly
on a day's notice to claim a child
of uncertain parentage. They did not leave
wife and child behind with a kiss and a promise.
I will bring home something very special.
I imagine the ease
with which you introduce me.
This is my daughter.
No hesitation or stammer in your voice.
When you get to my favorite part of the story,
I watch your eyes.
They are steel gray to my blue.

Forty years later you still chuckle
about the fancy lady in the fur coat.
How she swooped over both of us on the plane.
I've never had children, but I can do a better job
with that than you.
You let her change me
even though you knew it wasn't true.

Mom met us at the airport,
aunts and uncles, friends holding their breath.
She was afraid to hold me,
afraid to let me go.

That was the day you carried me
so much further than the distance between two coasts.

--LJ Cohen, 2004


  1. Brought tears to my eyes. Way to go, dad.

    1. Thanks, Ilyanna! Yeah--he totally rocks. :)