Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bittersweet Birthday Wishes

Today is my Dad's birthday. He would have been fifty.

I can't help but sit here thinking that we probably would have had a big party planned. I mean, FIFTY...that's big. That's huge. That's half a century of living and loving and raising kids and working and fishing. That's a milestone.

And yet he's already been gone for too long. Long enough that I have to sit with my eyes closed and really concentrate to recall what his voice sounded like. Long enough that Kbear saw a picture of him the other day and squealed "Uncle TOM!" with delight, not knowing that in that moment my heart broke just a little bit.

A ton of old memories have resurfaced lately - I suppose that's normal. Just last week I was thinking about his 30th birthday. I was ten and my Mom threw him this huge wonderful surprise party that was the most amazing fun thing ever to my ten year old self. There were people everywhere...streamers, friends, family, and a topless mermaid cake that I didn't really understand until I was much older. My Dad was shocked. My Mom was elated and they were in love. Us kiddos only got to stay for a little while before our grandparents whisked us away (and I'm sure now that at that point the party really got started), but to this day I still have that moment frozen in time - Dad hoisting up the garage door, probably swearing that the stupid thing was broken, and then his shocked face when he realized that his garage was jam packed full of people yelling SURPRISE at him.

It's amazing how clear it all still is. It doesn't seem like it was twenty years ago. I still remember. He was tan and young and the sunset played on his face as his jaw hit the floor. He was just thirty years old and surrounded by loved ones. He was healthy. He didn't have cancer.

So I think it's easy to assume that we would have had another party for this milestone birthday. And instead, we have to be content with memories. We have to be content to sit back and smile softly and whisper a prayer and send it off on the wind with love. That's all we have left. Memories and love.

So Happy Birthday Old Man. Lord knows I miss you but I love you so much and I know that wherever you are today, you are out fishing on a lake under a brilliant blue sky.

I hope you catch a big one.


Jax said...

Happy Birthday to your Dad!!!! I can still see him in his ratty grey zip up hoody on moving day, muttering something while packing the truck.

Brings tears to my eyes....

Love you guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Now you and your mom have both made me cry at work today.


Marcy said...

Two nights ago, Mike got out of bed at 3:00 in the morning. I thought he was headed to the bathroom, except after 15 minutes he didn't come back. So, I walked through the house to find him sitting on the ottoman with his head in his hands. I knew he was asleep, and I asked him "Mike, what are you doing"? He said, I can't find Brian. It's almost his birthday. So, I took him back to bed to finish his dream. Your Uncle Mike really misses his brother. Your dad loved Jesus, and he is celebrating his birthday with the Angels in heaven.