May is my favorite month. Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays, just because I like saying the name and drinking Dos Equis beer. There are May poles and May flowers from all those April Showers and it's also the month we celebrate Towel Day in commemoration of Douglas Adams. It's also the month I was born and I share this birth month with my father. I share a lot of things with my father, including the initials GAP (I've added an S to mine recently), significant height and extremely long toes, an overactive sense of worry and a healthy love/hate relationship with the Volkswagon Vanagon.
When I was about 12, my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Out of nowhere I told her I wanted a trampoline. None of my friends had one and I had only jumped on one maybe once or twice before in my life, but flying through the air like that seemed like the greatest thing in the world. My mother said she would take it under consideration.
A few days later she was asking Dad jokingly what he wanted for his birthday. Our family has never made a big deal out of birthdays so I'm not sure my parents have ever bought birthday gifts for each other. Dad pondered it for a minute and wistfully said he'd like to have a trampoline. I think you could have knocked my mother over with a feather as she wondered if she had anything to do with my birth or if it was all a dream since I had obviously sprouted from the same pod my father had.
Since the planets were aligned that my father and I would have wished for the same birthday gift despite the 36 year gap in our ages, it seemed only fitting that we should share a trampoline as our present that year. If our life were like a storybook, I could show you a photo of my father and I jumping on this trampoline in the spring sunshine. But our household never seemed to work that way.
CostCo happened to sell trampolines and we did manage to buy one and get it home to the backyard where it was covered with a tarp until we had time to assemble it. The bright blue tarp-wrapped gift sat out there for the month of May and June and probably July as well. I remember
pestering asking my mother when we could put the trampoline together, but she would always patiently say that Daddy had to help and we was very busy at the time.
By the end of the summer, I had decided to take matters into my own hands. I dragged the tarp off and found snips to snap the metal bands around the water-damaged box that held our birthday present. The box was full of steel pipes, some springs and a mat. How hard could this be? I read the instructions and got a little disheartened at the illustrations showing two people assembling this structure, but still assumed a little extra time could make up for the lack of extra hands. Needless to say, all I managed to do was drag a bunch of pipes around the back yard and get really frustrated.
We never did get the trampoline assembled and parts of it are still probably in the back yard somewhere at my parents' house. When I was 12, I was grumpy that we couldn't just go out and buy something like the rest of the world, assemble it and enjoy it. I didn't understand why our lives had to be so much more complicated than that. As an adult, though, I marvel that my parents could manage to pick us all up from school and make sure we were all fed and happy between everyone's different schedules and obligations. I can only imagine the strain of putting other people's needs and wants ahead of your own for years and years. I don't think my parents have been to a movie together since the early 60s and they've never been on a vacation since their honeymoon in 1968 (nestled in the middle of Daddy's tour of duty in Vietnam).
I just spent nearly two hours on the phone with Dad talking about the house we're supposed to own as of Monday. He was calling to ask if he could talk to a plumber he knows about the best way to add this extra bathroom to the house we'd like to have. My parents only have one working bathroom in their house now and that one you have to hold the handle to flush the toilet and there's only hot water to the sink because the cold water line leaks. So while they manage with that, Daddy is talking to me about if we would want double vanities in our master bathroom or if one sink would do. It's hard sometimes for me to even talk about it with him.
I never talked to Dad about the trampoline, but I can only imagine he was frustrated about the whole thing too. He was working two jobs at the time and his youngest child was about to become a teenager, that age where they suddenly want nothing to do with their parents. He probably marveled at the coincidence that we wished for the same outlandish item for our birthdays. It had to hurt his stomach every time he thought about the tarp-covered box in the back yard as much as it probably broke his heart to see I'd opened it and dragged it all out only to abandon it in frustration.
So now almost 20 years later, we're buying a house only a block from my parents. I could tell you I've already bought a trampoline to assemble and enjoy with my dad but he'll be 67 this year and I'm not sure either of us need to deal with the aftermath of his breaking his hip in our back yard. My new wistful plan is that we might have enough money in our renovations budget to add a tin roof on a back porch for my father and I to sit and listen to the rain. Maybe that will happen by next year's April showers.