Happy Birthday Dad.
I think about youevery year on this day, and one other. But I don’t want you to think I only think of you on these two days, you fill my thoughts more than two days a year. But these two days can’t go by without a special notice. The first day being your birthday. Today. It’s a day to celebrate you. The second day. The anniversary of the day you left us. Some days it seems like yesterday that you left and yet it seems like forever since we’ve seen you.
But I don’t want you to think those are the only days or moments that you are in my thoughts. Oh no, you’re all over the place in my memories. And it’s these thoughts that have helped in the process of healing over losing you.
Last week I walked up to one of your granddaughters homes and looked up when I approached the door. What do you think I saw? A beer can nestled behind the porch light. It may have been placed there by someone else’s hand. But it was put there by you. It made me laugh.
One of your daughters wrote about the cough drop hunt held so many years ago on the farm. It made me laugh as well. What a hunt! One cough drop. Sixty four acres. I love the world that we lived in at the time that you could plant a cough drop, go take a nap and your children were safe in the hunting and adventure.
A few weeks ago I was looking at pictures and reading a story about Wayne National Forrest. Remember the hikes to Tinker’s Cave? The forced climb atop the fire tower? I think you would be pleased to know that someone has cleaned up and worked hard at protecting old stone church. We were there a year or so ago and I felt good remembering being there so many times with you. And I know on at least one occasion we had Grandfather with us.
I was looking over some pictures a grade school friend commented on. It filled me with memories and joy when she recalled good times with us as a family and how our family will always be associated with her good childhood memories.
There was a moment after you left us when I walked through the woods. It was fall. It was cool. It was windy. As I headed back up the path that would bring me to the rear of your house the wind howled in an almost human growl. It wasn’t scary. I don’t imagine any words said. But it was hugely loud. Close to human. It made me look up. I still remember the view. The whitish bluish grayish sky with the dark limbs of the bare trees crisscrossing my vision. It wasn’t long after you left us. I just wondered if you were trying to make me hear you. If it was you I heard you! If it wasn’t you it was just a very loud wind. I can accept that. But now windy days and trees=you.
I probably think a lot about you because I have a huge rock with your name posted on it stuck right in my front yard! I would just like to point out that none of your other kids have that.
I walked in the garage over the weekend and there was a sleeping bag hanging there for some reason or another. Why do sleeping bags remind me of you? It’s one of those association mind games. Sleeping bags: you got us all sleeping bags for Christmas one year: for Christmas you usually had a theme: police hats: jean outfits: paint by number sets: parties: presents: joy.
I use to wonder and contemplate on what in the world I could get you for your birthday every year. Some years I think I did okay. Some years I am sure I did not. All the more kudos to you that I don’t know that for sure, I just guess. But this year, and every year since you left here, I haven’t had to worry about it. I know the gifts that matter. I am grateful for the gifts that you gave us over the years. The laughter. The parenting. The love. All of these things are what helped us/me deal with your unexpected leaving of us. And these gifts are the gifts that I keep using. Even though it’s your birthday and I want to spend a moment taking special notice of you, for you, I want you to know I think of you every day. And I thank you for those moments.
Thank you for being the dad that you were, so that even when you are gone I know you have not left us.
I love you.