I’m listening to Neil Diamond’s “Dear Father” from “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” right now. Seems appropriate.
Today is your birthday, Daddy. You would have been 83. I lost you on February 29, this year. And, oh God, this is your first birthday away from us. Before you tell me you’re in a better place, I do know that. I find comfort in that. Comfort in the fact you’re whole, healthy. In fact, I still keep seeing visions of you at 18 years old, in the army. Before I knew you. And I tell myself it’s really you, not just a wishful thought. It’s you, telling me you’re fine. That you don’t need your oxygen machine anymore. You can go anywhere you want now without having to lug your little portable oxygen device. And you assure me that is something I should be happy about. And I am. Believe me, Daddy, I am.
But. Of course there is a ‘but’ to this. I went to Walmart on the way home from work today, Daddy. I needed to go the card aisle to get you a birthday card; and, damn it, I got hit with it. Hit like a piano falling from a five thousand story building. You are gone. You are gone. No more birthday cakes. No parties. No cards. Never again.
I mean, really. Do you realize how hard it was to find the perfect card for you every year? You hated those schmaltzy cookie cutter cards just as much as I did. And they were not you. So my yearly mission was to find the card — the card that reflected you. And let me tell you. It was hard. Because you weren’t one of those Hallmark Daddies. You were good ol’ Daddy, plain ol’ Daddy.
The cards were right about one thing, though, Daddy. Every single one of those pesky cards said, “I don’t tell you I love you as often as I should.” How did those card writers know that most of us kids do not do that? Well, I suppose they were all kids, too? Well, they were right. I did not tell you as often as I should. Heck, looking back, I don’t suppose I told you much at all. I figured you knew, anyway. And I’m sure you did. But I bet you would have loved to have heard it more often.
Well, we won’t have to be bothered by those irritating American Greetings anymore, will we?
Oh, Daddy, I wish it really did make me feel better to tell myself that. That I’m glad to be relieved of that chore every year — that quest for the Ark of the Covenant of birthday cards, the Holy Grail of greetings.
But it does not. I’d gladly spend all night in stupid Walmart to find you a stupid card if you were just still here. All night, I’d look for a card. I wouldn’t care how sugary it was, how silly. If you could just be here for me to give it to you.
Well, I’ve whined enough. Your birthday is nearly over now. Good. So maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and not miss you so much? Fat chance.
Daddy, I sure do miss you. I miss you so much. Didn’t get you a card. But — wherever you may be — Happy, happy birthday. I love you.