Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy birthday, Dad.

You would have been eighty one today.

An old man, but I doubt if the number alone would have phased you or slowed you down much.

You would still have driven us all crazy by jingling the spare change in your pocket.

You would still have cared about the little details in everyone’s life. The kids, the grandkids, the jobs, their schedules (though you could never seem to keep up with mine-that would be no different today, I’m afraid). You always had a memory for the details. I wish you’d passed that one along to me.

You would have continued to do the jobs that nobody else wanted to do, just because you knew they needed to be done.

You would have laughed, always laughed, and smiled your sort of weird, crooked smile that now sits hazy in my memory, hovering there as if deciding to dissolve.

You might be proud of me today.

I work as hard as you taught me to. Sometimes too hard, but you know I got that straight from you. A work ethic is not easily shed.

I never saw you make too many mistakes in your sixty two years. I’ve made plenty, Dad. Some of them life changers.

I hope you would forgive me for those, as I’m trying to forgive myself.

When I get stiff and sore, I think of you.

When something makes me itch, I think of you.

Genes are funny postcards from beyond the grave, powerful in their ability to pass along both good and bad.

I miss you every day.

I think about you every day.

It amazes me, but I’m still learning from you. Did you know that would happen? Did you ever imagine that you would continue to inform, cajole, encourage, scold, and affirm, long after my ability to see the details of your face has waned?

I try my very best to live the way you taught me to.

I don’t try to be you.


But Dad, I try very hard to be like you.

Every day.

7 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Dad

  1. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing about your dad and yes, I’m sure he’d be very proud of you for many reasons.


  2. (Please forgive my mistakes; I’m not an anglophone 🙂 )

    Your paper is so universal… thank you for putting in words what we are so many to encounter.
    I won’t bother you with the story of my life, but just 2 or 2 things pop up in my mind:
    My dad died from cancer 3 weeks before my 17th birthday. As a marine officer, he would be absent most of the time and our bond just started to get strong and meaningful. We were in the fantastic process of discovering eachother.
    And I lost him.
    For several months, I would carry on thinking “Oh! I have to ask Dad about this or that” and then realized and could not speak or think for hours.
    It’s been almost 34 years now and I still think of him 34 times on his birthday and 33 times on the date of his death.
    And you know what the weirest has been so far? It was to become older than him.


  3. Agnès

    I am so sorry. You were so young…

    I know that for me, the year I turn sixty two is going to be very, very hard.

    Any living I do after that will most likely feel like something I have taken from him, a crazy thing I know but there it is.



  4. I am sorry for all the English mistakes I’ve done. I proofread my message before sending it but saw none of them… 😦


  5. Greg,

    You know my story. So you know I understand. Yes. Double yes! When I reached my 32nd birthday, I kept waiting for my life to end, as did my mom’s. I was honestly a paranoid, nervous wreck that year. It affected me in a serious way! And yes. It seemed a bit warped…me living longer than she did. It really DID feel like like she was cheated…I was stealing something from her. Years. Life.

    What I came to understand is that she lives on through me. Her legacy is in part, ME. The things she taught me, showed me by her life actions, and the things she unknowingly left me upon her death…these things I cherish & have cherished for 43 years. The 11 year-old gangly kid that was suddenly thrown into adult responsibilities finally got it. The questions of “Why,” “Why her,” & “Why me,” finally stopped. Not because I wonder about them, but because they’re not the issue. It’s not WHAT happens to us, but HOW we respond to what happens to us that matters. I may have already shared some of the things that have occurred throughout the years without her. If not I really need to. I’m talking things that don’t happen everyday. Life-changing occurrences that have meant the world to me, just because in some way my mom was involved…even in death.

    My heart knows your pain.



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