Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dear Dad - Happy 61st Birthday

Dear Dad,

Today was the weirdest birthday celebration I've ever been apart of, because the birthday boy wasn't at the party. 

Those of us who could manage it logistically (me, Margaret, Milo, Samson, Mom, and all the pups) gathered under the roof of the house you built for us to gather in. (In true Tim form, he was absent so he could brew beer... gotta love the priorities, but I'm sure you would have more than approved.) There weren't balloons, or presents, or even cake. (Ironically, there were often no balloons, presents, or even cake on your birthday when you were here to "celebrate" anyway, but that's beside the point.) 

I visited your bench at the new dog park with Oscar. It's in the best location - by far - under a big shade tree. I can see it being the bench that people head for as soon as they enter the gate. It will attract a lot of butts (and mutts)! The park has a long way to go toward being completed, but it's fun to think of you on that bench overseeing all the development - and probably telling them how it should be done faster, stronger, better.

We took the dogs to the river and let them swim and romp and get some rowdies out. The river was a little high and really muddy from all the recent rain. Mom brought the walking sticks and walked the dogs up the river a little, but not too far because there were other families out. They had so much fun, and they all got baths when we got back.

Samson asks for GiGi, constantly, and cries when she can't hold his hand or play with him, or do anything less than devote 120% of her attention to him. She's earned his love, but I can't help but think how attached he'd be to you as well, if he'd had the opportunity. Oh, the trouble you two would have rustled up - and probably a couple of trips to the ER! You would love him at this age. He's learning so much so quickly, has such a vocabulary, and is starting to understand jokes... I predict he'll be a prankster. I'm pretty sure he would have adored your goofy sense of humor.

To finish out the day we celebrated with dinner at your favorite restaurant - The Huisache, of course. Sweet Potato Fries, Chicken Fried Steak, a glass of good wine. All a tribute, in simple recognition of this day on which you were born, 61 years ago.

I think you would have appreciated the gestures, without all the fuss.

I've always felt it was so appropriate that your birth date falls within days of the annual autumnal solstice. It's even more appropriate that this year the season change actually fell on your birthday. Symbolically, we are all entering a new season together: a whole year since you departed this world and headed onward to new adventures. Last year feels simultaneously a million light years ago, and as if it were yesterday.

There's something about this one year mark that makes things feel different and official. We survived. A whole year. In some ways this makes me feel relieved and proud, like I wasn't sure we could do it... or that life would actually GO ON. We did, it does. In other ways, the sadness develops a new facet, and deepens. As if, there really is no doubt anymore that you aren't coming back. You're not just on extended vacation, or downstairs puttering around, or hiking on the back of the property. This is it: our new reality. We don't get to wake up from a bad dream, and get soothed with a hug and celebrate with a family reunion dinner.

I thought today would be much, much harder, but I feel your presence so strongly in our lives and hearts each day that it's not quite as lonely as I expected. Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. Or maybe the true challenges will come later, as it gets harder and harder to remember details, and deny the truth. I hope not. I hope it doesn't get more challenging than this!

What can I say? On a less melancholy note, I'm really happy you were born. I'm so glad my family tree turned out the way it did! It definitely has its less than perfect elements - notably, the Green nose and aptitude for harsh criticism - but all-in-all I cannot for the life of me imagine my world with a different father. I'll take the good, the bad, and the ugly, over whoever else might have been in the running! I'm so glad I got you for my DNA. 

I'm so incredibly happy that you were born to be my dad. Even if 60 years was all we got - I'll celebrate each one... and I'll continue celebrating each year I get to look back on the memories, too.

Happy 61st Birthday!

I love you, always and forever.