Today is my Daddy’s birthday. March 23. Another one. Without him. This is the fourth without him here with us. The third since we gathered with Mama and planted the tea olive at the foot of his grave.
How is that even possible? Time is an elusive creature.
Today we made a small pan of brownies to celebrate the day and remember. That’s a change from what I would normally make for his birthday, but that is the way the wind blows. Changes keep coming, carrying us further and further away from the birthdays we celebrated with him.
Brownies? Why not. The littles were thrilled, and as my Aunt pointed out, Daddy would have been the first to say, “Just make something those children will enjoy.” And I expect he could have been convinced to have one or two himself.
I get my sweet tooth from my Daddy, I think.
I’ve thought about him a little bit more than I normally do, and I would venture a guess that it’s a normal thing to do, considering. And what kept coming to mind are the things I would tell him, as though he were here, and I were gathering my crew to head over and celebrate with him.
Since that’s not something I can make happen, no matter how much I wish I could, I decided to write him a letter. He loved hearing the stories about the littles in the family. About his grandchildren, his grand nieces and nephews. They made him smile and laugh and he loved to share them with others. And so I have saved a few just for him that I think he would enjoy.
Happy Birthday. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect upon your words of wisdom or wish you were here so I could glean more. Lord knows and you do too that I need all the help I can get. I miss you. I miss you for so many reasons, but mostly because you were my comfort, my safe place to land. You didn’t always make it easy, but you always made it okay.
Things are changing around here. You’d be so proud of your first, your oldest grandchild. She is looking at making changes of her own, all toward the end of reaching her future goals. She has her heart set on graduate school, and she’s going to see it through, I’m pretty sure. She’s about to take some classes that you would have enjoyed talking with her about and hearing her thoughts. And vice versa. I am looking forward to the conversations myself, but I know I won’t be the partner you were for me. Thank you for that. Letting me talk things out. And think them through in our talks. Thank you.
That little girl you called “Princess” is growing up too. She is becoming a thinker, a problem solver. I know you’d be impressed, as you and Mama tried to raise us to think things through and not to let anything stop us from reaching our goals–to be problem solvers.
Last week the littles and I went over to Aunt’s house, and their second cousins were there. They were tickled and had a ball playing. As always happens in the first warm days around here, the children gathered and decided the only way to get relief from the heat was to play with water–in this case, with water guns. Cooter had his gym class later on, so he couldn’t get wet. I apologized but said we’d have to let that idea go for this visit. Cooter was devastated, as he can get when he is disappointed. But Princess and the three cousins weren’t giving up yet. A few minutes later they came in, and Princess shared that they had a new plan–Cooter would shoot everyone else with the water, and when he got someone wet, they’d get a gun and join him in getting the others wet.
What was I supposed to do with that? Aunt, Cousin, and I laughed. What else could we do? And since Cooter was good with this version of the game, I had to say yes. I was actually pretty impressed. And yessir, she got wetter than anyone else. You know how she’s always loved the water.
She came in a few days ago, after walking our pup Miss Sophie, and I asked if all went well. “Oh yes ma’am, she went.” Oh good. I asked her if she had picked it up with a bag. She knows to do this, but sometimes I feel the need to followup.
“I sure did. Did you know if you put the bag behind her when she’s going, she’ll go in the bag and everything’s all taken care of? All you have to do is tie up the bag?” She was quite pleased with herself.
“Wait. What? That works?” It was one of those kind of “mind blown” moments, and I wondered how she’d come up with that to begin with.
And I guess it does, because our Princess says she’s done it that way more than once.
Okay then. Whatever works, right?
We found a Star Wars Monopoly game at the GW Boutique Friday. Brand new, never opened. We picked it up, because Cooter is the biggest Star Wars fan ever. And Aub likes to play monopoly. She’s really good about playing games with the littles. I know, she gets that from Mama. So they had a marathon game going all weekend, reminiscent of the games we used to have going at Granny’s–me and the cousins way so long ago.
They were all really pretty good sports through it all. Occasionally I’d hear voices get a little louder and I’d call out, “Hey, y’all be kind!”
Yesterday morning, I thought I heard them getting after each other. I was about to remind them again, when I heard Cooter laughing. “Ha. Dirty napkin. Dirty paper towel.” He fell into fits of laughter again. When he came up for air, he said, “I’m just trash talking, that’s all. Dirty paper plate.” And this time I joined him in the laughter.
That boy. He’s quite the character. He reminds me of you in that respect.
They all love and miss you, but the tears have given way to laughter for the most part. They love talking about what they remember. How you reacted to cricket sounds in the Eric Carle book. Every. Single. Time. Your playing soccer with them. Your Matchbox cars. Watching Cats with you. Eating pizza with you. How you made them laugh. The books you read to them. So many precious moments, tucked away in their hearts to pull out and look at again and again when they need a smile and to know that they are loved.
I don’t know what else to say, except the same thing I said each evening of those last weeks when I was leaving out to head back home.
Bye Daddy. Thanks for everything. Love you.