I guess I should also explain that it’s the FIRST birthday I’m celebrating without him. I don’t even know how old he would have been. I’m like that. He passed away two days after Christmas last year of a stroke. It was a complete surprise.
I don’t feel sad really (that’s a lie because I’ve teared up several times while proofing this), however, I DO miss being able to text him (he JUST learned how to do that about 6 months before his death). I also miss knowing that I just can’t call him to wish him a Happy Birthday.
In our past, we never really had the type of Father-Son connection like you’d see on the Brady Bunch or the Cosby Show. We shared a fairly tumultuous relationship growing up. A lot of yelling and anger were common in our familial world. I wasn’t his perfect son and he really wasn’t what I wanted or expected as a father emotionally (although he ALWAYS provided for us economically).
We actually became estranged for a few years when I discovered he was cheating on my Mom and I thought he was a hypocrite and I also hated him for not being true. It’s funny in retrospect how the more opposite I thought we were, the more we were actually alike.
After many heartfelt conversations as we matured and became somewhat wiser sharing a few well intentioned glasses of deep red wine, we eventually grew away from the resentment and into respecting each other. Dad totally accepted my “lifestyle” after I explained it to him, and it was about at that time that I “forgave” him for his infidelity and subsequent divorce from my Mom several years earlier. We began to see each other as just two men who happened to be Father and Son and who also realized we were not perfect. At the risk of oversimplification, it was truly an epiphany for both of us.
As our lives moved forward, I’d call him about once a month and we’d chat about each other’s jobs a little, he’d ask how my partner, Daryl, was doing. I’d ask him how his health was and how his wife Sharon was and then we’d end the call with the promise to have lunch as soon as MY schedule allowed. My schedule never works for things like that.
I don’t regret words unspoken. We ALWAYS said we loved each other at the end of our conversations.
I think I’m going to do what Daryl and his Mom usually do for his Dad and sister, Jo who passed several years ago; I’m going to release a few helium balloons this evening after work, to the sky… and watch them while I squint until I can’t see them anymore as they sail into the heavens and into my Dad’s arms with wishes of peace.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll once again see his face in mine as I shave in the mirror and grin.
Happy Birthday Dad.