Happy Birthday

Dad in his younger days

My dad in his younger days

This is your first birthday you’re not here, and soon it’ll be my first birthday you’re not here.

I’m doing okay these days, all things considered. My eyes still swell with tears from time to time, like they’re doing right now as I try to write this. Sometimes I feel them coming, and sometimes they come out of nowhere while I’m driving or just thinking to myself or when a random trigger I wasn’t prepared for occurs.

But that’s all perfectly okay, as long as that’s not all that I do. I learned that from you. I’ve seen you cry, but I’ve never seen you defeated. I’ve never seen you let sadness overshadow the amazing personality you had to offer. For any tear you shed, you were sure to match by putting a smile on someone’s face. I’ve always tried to take these cues from you, even prior to your passing. I get most of my personality from you, which I think a lot of people can see if they knew you personally or only by word of mouth.

My dad with one of my older sisters and my older brother

My dad with one of my older sisters and my older brother

I’m seeing that even in death and on your birthday, you’re still giving me something. You never asked for much, even though you gave more of yourself than anyone I’ve ever known personally. So it’s no surprise that you’re still providing valuable examples for me to look to.

Everyone misses you immensely: me and my sisters and brother, your wife and my mother, Debra, your 13 grandchildren, your brothers and sisters, and your numerous amount of friends. I still don’t think I’ve known someone with as many friends as you, from people you’ve known a year to those you knew anywhere from 30 to 50 years.

I don’t aspire to have as many genuine friends as you, because I think it’s something most people could never dream of. But I do hope to have the ones I have now for as long as you had many of yours.

You were an amazing father to me, a role model, a best friend, and a provider of advice. Even when I got to a point where I didn’t think I needed to ask your permission for anything because of my age, I still ran things by you to see if you thought they were a good idea. I try to do that for myself now by imagining how you would react to something these days.

My dad, mom and I

My dad, mom and I

It’s pretty hard to write this, so I’m just going to wrap it up soon.

Happy birthday to the funniest person I ever knew and the fairest person I ever knew. I hope I can put smiles on faces the same way you did and treat people the same way you did as I go forward.

From the day I could talk throughout all of my years, I never went away from calling you Dada —

So Happy 57th Birthday, Dada.

Me and my dad. The last picture we took, about a month prior to him passing.

Me and my dad. The last picture we took, about a month prior to him passing.

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