A few days ago I mentioned the birthday card I got from Don Johnson. It was 1986. Just at the height of Miami Vice mania. I watched that show every week and had a huge crush on the star. I loved his pink shirts and rolled up jacket sleeves and loafers with no socks. I loved his fast cars and even faster boats. I loved that he had a pet alligator. He was cool. Very cool. Well, very cool in 1986. I even bought his record when it came out.
That year I was turning 14. We had moved away from all of our extended family and when my birthday came and went without even a card from anyone, I was disappointed. I told mom and dad this. But what could they do? Call grandma and ask her where my card was? So I resigned myself that I was out of sight, out of mind. Oh, well.
But a few days later I got three cards in the mail. I don't remember if there was any money in them. It's obviously long gone if there was. (Probably spent on the Don Johnson record.) But I still have the cards. The first was from my grandma and grandpa complete with gram's shaky handwriting. The second was signed by all my aunts, uncles and cousins. There was even little messages from each one saying just what they would say if I saw them. And the third, oh my goodness, the third was from DON JOHNSON. How did he know it was my birthday? How did he know my address? What was I going to wear on our first date?!?! I remember being so excited. Not just about the Don Johnson card, but about all three.
I'm not sure how long it took me to figure out that the cards, all three, were sent by my dad. He had gotten three cards and taken the time to sign each one. He even disguised his handwriting and used different color pens. He had addressed them and stamped them and mailed them. At the time, once I realized what had happened, I thought that what he had done was such a nice thing. He cared that I was disappointed and did what he could to fix it. And now, after all these years, I still have those cards. Not because of whose names are on them, but because of who really sent them. And because of the love behind them. What he did was so amazing and wonderful. Those cards represent 37 years of all the things dad has done for me to make me smile and encourage me and heal my broken heart. 37 birthdays that he has wished me happy birthday in ways that no one else could. And even more than that, it was just one example of thousands that I've gotten from him of how to love my own children. One of these days, when Josh or Adam or Julianna are hurting, maybe I'll remember those three cards, that simple, sweet act, and do something for them that they will remember always like I remember this.
So, yes, I got a birthday card from Don Johnson. I couldn't sell it for the autograph, though. Not because it's not real, but because it is priceless.
Thanks, dad. And happy birthday. I love you.