“Come on Grandpa, we have to leave in five minutes. I told mom we would be there on time,” said Joey as he waited outside the white bathroom door. He rolled his eyes as he watched the clock, ticking its way past 5.13pm. He hated waiting. His patience had a time limit and he was afraid that Grandpa Felix would be testing it today.
Joey heard the door knob wiggle, and then the door opened gently. Grandpa Felix stepped out looking very proud of himself. He had pretty much doused himself in 4711 Muelhens Eau de Cologne. The few strands of hair he had, were slicked back with pomade. Joey had hoped he would get Felix’s genes - he feared that his early receding hairline was passed down to him from his father’s side. In fact, he had hoped he would inherited his grandfather’s longevity, his humour and his luck with the ladies.
Felix had been a British peacekeeper in Egypt, during the fight for the Suez Canal in 1956. His uniform and his accent did all the work for him. He told Joey so many stories, he didn’t know whether they were real or fabricated. Seeing the way his grandfather was still very much independent, there was a big chance his stories were mostly true. Joey considered how life must’ve been boring for Felix after the 80s - they were about to celebrate his 100th birthday and Joey was in charge of bringing the birthday boy over to the party. His mother would have a fit if they didn’t arrive on time.
“Wow, Grandpa. I think you just revived the 80s with that much perfume,” Joey said to Felix as he chuckled at his own humour. “Son, this perfume was created in 1792 - I should be so lucky to revive the 80s,” Felix said as he walked passed Joey. “Now, I don’t know why your mother wants to have me over for dinner so early, this is going to mess up with my midnight reading schedule.”
“Whatever mom says is the order - you’ve always known that!” said Felix with a sigh.
He grabbed his keys from the inside pocket of his brown leather jacket, and guided Grandpa Felix out the main door and into the car. Did Grandpa Felix really not have a clue they would be celebrating his birthday today? The real deal was two days from now, but since it falls on a Tuesday, Joey’s mother considered that Sunday evening was the best possible time for a geriatric gathering.
“Joey, make sure you drive fast son. I want to eat and go home so Dinah can continue reading All the President’s Men to me. I found it in my library and I couldn’t remember what happened so I asked the nice lady if she would entertain my mind with this classic. She seems bored though, maybe it’s all the politics.” Grandpa Felix got into the car as Joey opened the door for him. He struggled to hold himself steady as he sat in the passenger’s seat. Joey had to hold him by the arm so he wouldn’t fall. Everything gets harder and harder at his age - he missed his young body. He especially missed his wife. “Your Grandma Vera wouldn’t have minded reading it to me. She was a good politician - always trying to get me to agree to eat her banana souffle when I wanted caramel pudding.”
“I will drive as fast as 50km an hour will allow,” said Joey as he shifted into reverse and slowly backed out of the driveway. Luckily they wouldn’t be going far. His mother kept things simple yet perfect. He switched on the radio and started humming to Cry Me A River.
About fifteen minutes later they arrived at a restaurant with arched windows and doorways. A rather small, wrought iron balcony stood out against the white stucco exterior. It was a warm afternoon, and Joey couldn’t wait to get inside the air-conditioned villa.
As Felix moved forward impatiently, he said, “Joey, I’m too old for this. I should be with nurse Dinah right now staring at my next pills. I have been to enough restaurants in my lifetime. Make this quick, will you? You better be introducing me to your girlfriend. I can’t live another 100 years before I see you married!”
When they reached the front steps of the villa, they could smell the sumac and the zaatar. It reminded Felix of his days in Cairo. His memory worked well, even after so many years. His daughter, Lauren, stepped out to greet him and paused for a moment as she looked at her father.
“Papa, we are so proud of you. You made it just in time. This is going to be wonderful.” Lauren had a huge smile on her face and she both her son and her grandfather through the main doors and into the banquet hall. As Felix stood there, he realised what they were doing.
He looked at Lauren and whispered “my dear, I completely forgot”! Lauren gave her father an enormous hug and said to him “Papa, we are all here to say thank you. Thank you for being the wonderful father that you are. Thank you for always protecting us and showing us the way. Thank you for always being positive and kind. Happy birthday!! We love you!”
With tears in his eyes, he hugged everyone. One by one as he saw his younger cousins, his daughters, his grandchildren. Felix was a fulfilled man.
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