Happy birthday, Leens!
I won’t bother trying to find the perfect gift. You return most of my presents anyway. Instead I’m giving you this blog post, plus a manicure and pedicure.
When you were a little girl in Manchester N.H., you used to comb the fringe of your family’s oriental rugs until it was perfectly straight.
For fun, you used to go to your friend Sharon Rosen’s house to clean and organize her closet. (Sharon’s mom probably did love that.)
I once found you in our kitchen staring at the carefully labeled, pastel-colored Pottery Barn organizer boxes above the computer.
“This is the only place in the house I feel safe,” you said.
You are a neatnik.
But you have been a good sport.
For years you have put up with my messy minivan, my dirty fingernails, my chipped, coffee-stained teeth; with me wearing outdoor clothes into bed; with me rarely attending your work dinners or movie premieres; with the dog digging in the garden and jumping in bed; with smelly hockey gear in our garage; with annual Troyer family vacations in the woods; with all the endless crappy hotels at youth hockey tournaments in Phoenix, San Jose, Vegas, Detroit and Chicago.
Do you remember when I used to take the kids ‘splash walking’ in the rain?
They would go stomping and splashing through the biggest, deepest puddles they could find.
You were a good sport about that, too.
You have put up with the mess, the chaos and, above all, the nagging feeling — once you finally got home from work each night — that I had put all my energy into the kids and dog and was now just a tired, cranky, wrung-out dishcloth of a husband.
So today, for your birthday, I will finally get that manicure/pedicure you’ve been pestering me about for 15 years.
I can’t promise it will last for long. My nails may look good for only a day or two. But at least for today, I’m cleaning up my act.
Happy birthday, sweet Aleeno.
May you live a long time, and may you always have this same beautiful smile on your face.