Every March 3rd for the past 16 years or so, I have found myself staring up into the morning sky and sending birthday wishes to someone very special whom I lost unexpectedly that many years ago. This morning was no different. As I peer through the window next to my desk, I, perhaps for the fifth time this morning already, send birthday wishes to my father. Happy birthday, Dad!
I can’t put into words the depth of how much I miss him. I can close my eyes and still see his smile and his bright blue eyes and hear this crazy giggle he would let out when he was being goofy. He made me laugh. He told me he loved me. I loved being with him – when he would decide to come around.
My father was not the ideal father. He was not the stereotypical work all day, come home at night, eat dinner with the family kind of guy. In fact, my parents divorced when I was two and he wasn’t even the kind of dad I would see more than twice a year sometimes. My father was rather nomadic, I guess you could call it. He popped in and out, showed up in his own timing and stayed only for as long as he wanted to do so. Yes – just typing that brings back a little of the frustration and anger I may have had for him at various points in life. Why weren’t you there for me? Why didn’t you show up to my graduation? Why were you unable to attend my wedding? But – when I spend the time reviewing history, I still know that when the words, “I love you” came out of his mouth…they were genuine, real and as transparent as they could possibly be for a guy like him.
There are few people in this life from whom I trust those words are genuine when they roll past their lips. In fact, I have a very difficult time trusting those words at all. When I know I can, I cherish them wholeheartedly, as I do when I remember my father saying them. I actually have a compartment in my memory box of a brain that holds my father’s voice in there saying those three powerful, yet delicate words…followed by both my first name and middle name as only he could say them. That meant the world to me and means the world to me even now. I so wish I could hear him audibly say them.
The years were not kind to my father and he often did not show that much respect to time either. He made choices that ultimately led to his demise, as well as thwarted his ability to meet his three grandsons. He walked a path I would never walk and a path I pray my children never take. He suffered consequences I wish he had never had to face and built walls nobody could tear down. The irony in it all is that it worked for him. As strange as that sounds, it actually worked…for…him and he was happy, or at least he led us to believe that. I didn’t agree with how he treated certain people. I didn’t agree with his walking away. I didn’t agree with his inability to remain a constant in my life. BUT – I know that, when he did show up, he was my Daddy and I was his little girl. I held on to that fairy tale of a thought my entire life….still do. Don’t judge.
So, today, I remember my father. I think on the memories of his teaching me to swim in my grandparents’ pool. I hold fondly the memory of his bringing me a kindergarten graduation card. I remember him being the parent who showed up to my fifth grade talent show when I sang a song from Mary Poppins. I will FOREVER remember his dancing in the back of the auditorium during my sixth grade Christmas concert…singing his own rendition of “Let It Snow.” I will remember his wanting to keep me safe when I was dating a guy back in high school he wasn’t sure was worth his daughter’s heart. I remember his making rolled grape leaves just for me the last time I ever spent quality time with him…which just happened to be the time I told him, “I’m pregnant!”
I will always remember your birthday, Dad. So, I hope you can see me as I look up into the sky throughout the day and wish you all my love and birthday wishes. I sincerely hope you are not causing as much trouble up there as you did down here…..
Until the next step I get to take with you…. Your Little Girl