April 25 would have been my Dad’s 58th birthday. Instead of cake and presents, there were flowers, tears, and a visit to his grave site. Where there should have been the sounds of laughter and singing, there were tears and sadness. We spent the day looking back at the past instead of looking toward what the following year would hold. Everything is different now.
Looking back and thinking of how we usually spent Dad’s birthday, I can’t help but smile. It was always simple, but special. We would have presents and cake and usually go out to dinner… one of those dinners that would last for hours full of stories and memories being made. Dad and Mom’s birthdays are two weeks apart, so we usually celebrated both of them together.
When Dad turned 50, we had a surprise party for him. There were 100 or so guests, family and friends, who came out to fete him. His band played; there was great food, funny gifts, and just a wonderful night to honor such an amazing person. I know that Dad felt so loved that night; his smile said it all.
When we started planning the party, we knew we wanted his band to be there, but didn’t quite know how to arrange that without him figuring it out. That’s when it was decided that I would tell him that my aunt and I were planning a surprise party for Mom. I told him that his only job was to get the band to play. I could tell that he wanted to do more and that it kind of hurt his feelings a little. I felt horrible!!!! All I could do was tell myself that I had to let it go until the party. I remember apologizing to him that night and he just laughed, like he always did!
That night, we had no idea that he wouldn’t have very many birthdays left. Life was easy and fun, so lighthearted, just like Dad. He wasn’t a worrier; he just took things as they came. Thinking of things this way, it makes me realize even more to treasure your time and make the most of every second.
Even though I miss Dad constantly, it’s the special occasions that are the hardest. It brings so much pain into my heart thinking back on the past and realizing that Dad’s not here to share in our present or future in the way he used to. The most important thing, I suppose, is to always remember that he’s in my heart and the hearts of all those who loved him. He has given us a birthday gift in this way.
I hope you had the best birthday in Heaven, Dad. I’m sure the cake and ice cream were the best ever.