20 November 2016

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today (Nov 19) is my dad’s birthday. Since my parents divorced when I was three or four, I haven’t really done much for his birthday. A card sent when I was younger, a text or a Facebook message in more recent years. It certainly was never about not caring. In some ways, I really take after him, or at least the side of him I’ve always known: not opening up easily, not sharing emotions very openly. One way I know this is similar to him is because it’s the same thing I’d get on my birthday.

But this year is different. This is the first birthday for him that’s come up that he won’t be getting older. The next few weeks are going to be tough for all of these “firsts” without him.

When Dad died back in January, to say it was a shock would be an understatement of huge proportions. And to have it happen just a few hours separate from the passing of his mom, my grandma, left an open wound for the whole family. It’s been ten months of healing, but I have no question that wound is about to open wide again.

This is the second time I’ve lost a father. My step-dad passed away in 1996, and even to this day there’s still a gap in my life. But while that will never go away, two decades has a way of easing the pain and promoting the good memories instead. But that time hasn’t passed yet, and so I’m just putting some thoughts out there.

After the divorce, Dad and I weren’t that close. I’ve posted about it before, but it’s just a matter of reality. We moved four hours away, and at that age, it’s tough to form a close bond with someone you see a total of maybe two months out of the year, spread out over four or five visits. There have been many times I’ve been envious of my sister Lori and her family, and my step-sister and -brother Michelle and Steve and their families because they got to know Dad is ways I never did, and never will. Their kids got to grow up with their grandpa, while mine met him twice. I don’t bregrude a single second of that time for them. That’s the way life happens, and it wasn’t “against” me, it’s simply the way things worked out. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about “what if…?”

Today would have been his 65th birthday. I have no doubt there would have been a bit of a to-do, especially with it being on a Saturday. Cake and ice cream, lots of laughter. But that’s not what this year will have in store.

I guess I’m just writing this as a little bit of personal therapy. In the weeks to come there will be thanks given among the tears, and gifts under trees that won’t shine quite as bright because of his absence, and that of Grandma.

I’ll just leave this a open letter to all my family – to Lori, and ‘Chelle, Stevie, and my step-mom, Sheila. To all my aunts and uncles, and all the (countless!) cousins. Whether you knew him as Dad, uncle, brother, grandpa, it doesn’t matter. The absence is real, and I know it affects us all.

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