Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday.
That just feels weird even typing it. I can’t picture him at 80, I can’t extrapolate how he may have been. You see we lost him when I was 14 and I never had the chance to get to know him as an adult.
Already this is hard to write. Yet I am trying to celebrate his life this year rather than the day of his death. It’s a sentiment that I read somewhere online, probably reposted by someone on Facebook. For weeks I’ve been contemplating it, and all day chewing on my words, what I would say and how I would say it.
He first got sick when I was very young, so I never knew the healthy vibrant man he had been. I knew a loving, caring, hardworking dad, who loved jokes and Saturday night hockey. Yet I used to always dread that one day I would get called out of class to be notified by the principal that he had died. That was the one fear about it all that never came true. He died over the Christmas holidays, packing away our decorations. Understandably I hated Christmas for a while. I really only remembered it’s magic through the eyes of my children.
I admit that over the years I haven’t always remembered his birthday or even the day of his passing–sometimes it was just easier not to mark it. This post is a conscious effort to remember a happy day. Like the time we put 50 candles on his 8″ birthday cake. The flames were huge and melted the icing into a mess. What a laugh we had over that 🙂
Tonight at dinner I will share stories of him with my children, his grandchildren. Our first carries his name as a middle name, and our second carries his sister’s name also as a middle name.
We’ll talk of the time when he was teaching horseback riding and he got kicked in both knees. The times I used to help him clean the pheasants that he and the good ol’ boys had hunted (yes eww, but it didn’t bother me then). We’ll chat of the time we went fishing and my little brother was the only one who caught anything. Of his stories commuting on the GO Train. His co-workers and the jokes they used to tell. How he could fix anything. And the time I accidentally dipped my blond pony tail into the blue paint he was using and how even paint thinner wouldn’t take it all out.
I will tell them that he would have loved to be a grandfather. Because he would have. He loved being a dad so how could he not?
Later, I will raise a glass of wine. Pretend that it’s clinking on his glass. And share the drink that we never got to share.