You would be 70 years old today. 70! Sometimes I get mad thinking about how you should still be here considering you had both of your parents for 90+ years. I would have thought we’d be celebrating this birthday with you, not in your memory. But I know that kind of wistfullness would have irritated you so I WILL MOVE ON, ALREADY.
I often think about the things I wish you could see in our lives. I wish you could see your son be a Dad. I’ve vacationed with his family two summers in a row and he puts us all to shame. He and his wife just have it figured out, you know? Their kids are going to grow up with memories of adventures and love and community and it’s just a beautiful thing to watch. You often worried we’d get some of your bad habits as a Dad but you wouldn’t worry about that after spending a week with their family. He’s amazing.
I also wish you could hear about Donnie’s job. You always liked listening to Donnie talk about work, I think you would have been a programmer if you had been part of our generation. But you would have LOVED the fun stuff his company does and you would have just loved hearing him regale you with all of the cool things they do in terms of encouraging creativity in project development. You supported the Silicone Valley style of management long before anyone else did, you loved the idea of environments where creative problem solving was encouraged.
But lately I’ve been really thinking about how I’d like you to meet my friends. I really think you would have liked them all too. You would have definitely loved hearing about the work some of my friends do (I mean, Huntsville is just jam-packed of people doing cool shit) but I think you would have also laughed at all of our stories of awkwardness and idiocy. I think you often felt like the other adults around you adulted better than you did – but I have learned something, none of us know what we’re doing and the second you start being honest about that? You’ll find everyone else is as lost as you are. You hated shopping for clothes because you felt like everyone around you could tell you had no idea what you were doing. Turns out? None of us do! And we all feel like that! I just wish you could have become an adult in the time I am in now, where everyone openly talks about their vulnerabilities and builds connections on that. I don’t think you were as alone as you felt.
I wish you could have seen the Obama Presidency. You liked him a lot and I think you would have been proud of the President he was for 8 years. I think you would have supported Bernie. I would have probably hidden from you that I was with Clinton just like I had to hide it from E and Donnie. They both loved Bernie too. It makes me laugh to imagine the primaries with you three trying to knock sense into me 🙂
E graduates from college in May and I wish you could be there so bad. He’s such a cool guy, Dad. I had nothing to do with that, as I’m sure you could believe seeing me in my clueless early days of being a WAAAAY too-young Mom. He’s taken on these leadership roles in college that are really teaching him a lot of the teamwork skills you and I often joked about lacking. You would have loved Montevallo, and found the passionate artsy groups there completely fascinating. You would have quizzed him about everything related to College Night (one of the oldest college traditions in the South) and you would have sat quietly in the back of the theatre watching the cheering and the singing in awe. I don’t know where his path will lead him after May, but I wish you could be here through all of it. Your parents got to see some of their grandchildren grow into adulthood and the most you got was seeing one of yours enter the tween years. I try not to get wrapped up in feeling like that’s unfair.
I miss you a lot, Dad. Some days it still hurts so deep in my soul I wonder how anyone can live with this kind of pain forever. But most of the days it just is a part of me. The grief has made me a better person in that I reach out to those in pain instead of shy away from them. It is a part of me and it has helped me be more compassionate and have more empathy and I think you would have been okay with that. You didn’t want us to grieve, but I think you would have been okay with it knowing it made us better people. And I truly believe it has.
Although I’d trade anything to be selfish bitch with you by my side instead of a compassionate soul with you long gone.
Happy Birthday, Dad.