Today is a special day. No it’s not St. Patick’s Day, it’s not Day Light Savings. Purim has passed and Passover is yet to come. So why is today special to me? Today is my Dad’s birthday. If my dad were still alive he’d be 76. The ironic thing is that the last birthday my dad celebrated was his 70th. We’d lived across the country by that time for almost 15 years. We’d talked when I could find time while raising my two children, which with the time zone challenges probably worked out to be once a week. I am even embarrassed to admit that when I thought about what to get him for his milestone 70th birthday that year, I didn’t know what it should be. I wanted to mark the occasion with something meaningful but was stumped at what he might enjoy. I decided on some Jewish books that I read about on Amazon and thought he would enjoy.
It’s crazy how things work in this life because around that same week, my dad was told he had terminal lung cancer. He called to tell me his prognosis. With that phone call everything changed. I knew in that moment that I didn’t want our relationship to stay stuck as I had felt it had been for many years. We didn’t have the time for that anymore. I flew to Vermont from the west coast the following week to give my father some companionship when my stepmother was driving their RV back from the South Carolina.
Sometimes we are given opportunities in our lives that we don’t fully comprehend until later. That weekend was one of those opportunities. My father and I laughed, cried, yelled, hugged and shared important time together without anybody else. For four glorious days, we forgave each other for years of hurting and misunderstanding and agreed to move forward in the time he had left. I have forever been grateful for that opportunity and the outcome that weekend provided.
My father’s death eight months later ended our physical relationship in a peaceful place. It was an end to our physical relationship but it was not an end to the spiritual one. I have felt my father’s presence consistently since he’s been gone and know that the mitzvah project, the book and everything else I do has been guided by our relationship and the healing that occurred before and after his death.
So today on March 23rd, I think about my father and remember both the good and the bad. The hugs and the tears. I am grateful for all he did for me in his life and lessons that I have learned since his death. I have also gained the perspective that he did the best he could even if sometimes the best fell short of what I would have liked.
I love you Dad despite the fact that you weren’t perfect, but of course now I know no one is…
Happy Birthday Dad.