It’s been more than ten years since you passed away. You would have been 86 this year. Wishes on birthdays are traditionally made for the celebrant. Ours are (selfishly) made for ourselves.
Dad, we wish we could hear your wonderfully raucous laugh again. Or see you proudly grilling in your backyard, lovingly holding one of your grandchildren in your lap, or reclining contentedly in your den enjoying your favorite football team. We want to dance (ahhhh, the robot!), share a holiday feast, and even argue debate with you again. We want you to sing songs recorded before we were born, and challenge us to “name that tune.” We’d love to listen once more as you pontificate on the issues of the day.
We knew we’d miss you when you left us. Yet, it was beyond our comprehension what a monumental emptiness we’d feel. What a profound impact you had on our family, Daddy. How you held it together– held us together – amid challenges we are just beginning to discern.
You were a fierce protector. Outside enemies stood no chance against you. No affront went unanswered. No discourtesy was sanctioned. How comforting it was to be one of your very own. But, Dad, we think you know all too well that we are contending with a destructive force within the family – a mother, grimly determined to be miserable and to spread that misery as much as she can.
Only now that you’re gone do we even begin to recognize how much and how often you stood between us and shrill name-calling, hurtful insults, unfounded accusations and many, many other discouraging words. You talked Mom down so well and so often we failed to appreciate it then, and we thought it would continue forever.
Of course, that was not to be.
We’ve been left to resist Mom’s assaults without you standing as an impediment against them. We console and commiserate and buck each other up. We burn up phone lines and our texts and emails fly furiously through cyberspace. We hang on to each other so we can emotionally (and barely) hang on.
Our birthday wish this month and everyday is to observe more of your birthdays with you. We would give anything if we could because — seriously, Daddy — our mother has got us totally befrazzled.