My brother, Raymond, was born on my birthday in 1960.
Best birthday present ever.
Alas. I am parted from my golden wonder child.
At nine years old her tiny energetic frame was crowned by tumbling golden locks that brought elderly ladies gushing to watch and touch.
Even her stunningly beautiful smart and sensible older sister, was cast in shadow by that brilliant light.
From since she was three years old we have been together on her birthday just once.
It was 1997. We were in Tenby, on the south-western tip of Welsh Wales, and it was Tenby Day (August 17, the day before my little girl's ninth birthday). The festivities included marching bands, and choirs, and jugglers, and wing-walkers and colorful costumes and people on stilts and parades and we all told C. that this had been laid on just for her birthday.
She almost believed it.
That night there were fireworks on the pier, and right outside our fifth floor apartment there was an eleven piece soul combo that started rockin' the place about 10:00 PM.
The four kids (7, 9, 11 & 12 yrs old) watched from the window while I served gin and tonic to elderly relatives who were recovering from five fights of stairs).
Shortly before midnight elderly relatives tottered down the stairs, and I stood on the steps in front of the house, until the rear lights of the taxi disappeared up the winding lane.
In front of me was a crowd of several hundred people. Lots of them were dancing.
I bounded up the stairs. “RIGHT KIDS LET'S PARTY!!!!” I bellowed.
“Daddy, It's Midnight!” said 12, sensible and smart. 11 Looked thoughtful, going out at midnight was kind of cool. 7 remained asleep. C jumped up ready to go.
Three of us went all the way down to the steps, at which point 11, seeing the huge crowd, and the noise, decided that she had made it outside, and that was triumph enough to share with _ when she got back to London.
C dances pretty good. (And I'm a goddam legend). So we worked our way right in front of the stage.
It was like a scene out Bollywood. The three guys on saxophones were copying her dance.
The band was gigging on my kid, and the whole crowd around us was gigging on my kid.
I was dancing and laughing and crying all at the same time.
And right at that moment, my little brother, Raymond, was sitting in his car in a desolate parking lot, with a hose pipe running from the exhaust in through to the cab. The window was sealed with duct tape.
We didn't share any more birthdays.