I am taking advantage of the fact that you are visiting at Baby Sister's for this birthday and so she can show you this, your birthday blog. I can't believe that you are 81 years old, Dad. You don't really seem to age these days. I just came across these two old pictures of us the other day, and I've been looking at them and thinking about them.
The first picture was taken when I was four months old.You are wearing a tie, so you had either just come home from work or you were dressed up and ready for a typical Saturday night party with the Aunts and Uncles. It still amuses me that you and the Uncles always wore ties when you all got together to tie one on.
I wonder what you were thinking as you held me tightly and gazed down at me. I mean, other than that I was surely the most beautiful daughter that a guy could ever have. I think you must have liked me a great deal when I was as tiny as I was in the picture. Finally, a girl after two rotten little boys. Girls are so much better, don't you think?
This second picture is my all-time favourite of the two of us. I think it is taken at the farm in Rockburn, but you would have to confirm. I could make up a story about why I was leaning my head on your lap, your arm wrapped around me, your eyes on me. Maybe I was tired. Or not feeling well. There is every possibility that you were comforting me because my two rotten older brothers wouldn't let me play with them. Whatever it was, thank you. I know that your care and comfort made things better. It always has. I wish I could remember what you said to me, I'm pretty sure you would have been saying something.
I had a pretty great childhood, and I thank you for that. You've been a great Dad, for most of my life. You weren't perfect. You tended to be a little uptight and cranky during the week. As you may recall, I haven't always been a perfect daughter either.
Some highlights and memories of having you for a Dad as a little girl:
- You were a wonderful provider, and we had a beautiful home
- You made us skating rinks in winter, and tended to our pool (obsessively) in summer
- Sometimes you let me sit on the stairs and watch you and the Uncles play darts and you'd give me my own little glass dish of peanuts and a glass of coke.( I felt very special)
- I loved that you came home from work early most days, although in retrospect you probably did it because my brothers were so rotten
- You always sang a wicked rendition of Holy Night, although seldom at Christmas (still do?)
- You and Mom bought me a yellow dresser with a bookcase for my Nancy Drew books, and I thought I had died and gone to Heaven
- You have always nurtured us with good cooking (still do)
- Watching Hockey Night in Canada was always a blast, you sure did get excited (still do)
- You loved my Mom, and it showed (still does)
- When you were a bit drunk at a family party, you would dance the cha cha with me
- When I played Marilla in Anne of Green Gables, I could tell that you were really proud of me
No need to get into details about my teenage and young adult years, really. It's your bloody birthday, why would I want to make you mad? Suffice it to say, these were my less than perfect years. You probably remember more about those years than I do. I know that you had a rough couple of years in there too, for reasons very different than mine. I am glad that things worked out for you. And for our family.
Flash forward to summer, 1987. I called you and Mom to tell you that I was going to treatment to deal with a an addiction problem. You knew that I had some struggles in that area. (Not quite sure why you never brought it up, but that's okay, things were different back in the day). Mom was clearly upset by my call, but I think I heard a hint of hopefulness as well as concern in her voice. She handed you the phone. I will never, ever, for as long as I live forget what you said to me. You told me that I was doing the right thing and that there was no shame in getting help for a problem. And then, just before you handed the phone back to Mom you said “You have always had balls, you can beat this thing.” Your words have stuck with me for over twenty years, Dad. Clearly, if I do have balls, I inherited them from you. So thanks. I guess.
That was a turning point for me. And you were a big part of it, and Mom too. The next decade was wonderful, until 2000. Again, it's your birthday so I won't make you cry but I am so sorry that you lost your best friend. I lost her too. We'll never get over it, will we? But we have gotten through it. And you had some really wonderful years with somebody else, until we lost her too. Crikey. What's with that?
But seriously. I have gotten to spend more time with you this past 10 years, and gotten to know you better, than any time earlier in my life. And I really like you. And I thank God for your continued health, and I pray for your happiness. I treasure the time we spend together, here in Paradise. I am grateful that you share your time with me, and I know that Baby Sister and those two rotten brothers are grateful for the time you spend with them too. (I don't really think they are rotten. I even wrote them a blog earlier this year, to prove it).
I hope that you are still cooking us spaghetti and screaming at hockey on the television until you are 101. I know that last year was a good birthday for you. I hope this year's is too. I love you, Dad. And this is another favourite picture of you and I. Your arm, still around me.