Happy Birthday Papa Bear!

13 Nov

Today is my dad’s birthday and it is the first time in as long as I can remember that we will not be spending the day together as a family. My siblings have always done their own thing  for Thanksgiving, so in a way celebrating my dad’s birthday was our Thanksgiving. We would hang out at my sister’s , Brigid’s, house all day, pick our pollyannas, and gorge ourselves on dinner and cake. It was a day I always looked forward to, a day I always cherished.

This year, my sisters and their daughters are in New York City with my sister-in-law, nephew (whose birthday also happens to be today), and my aunt. They are on a shopping trip, bringing along my nephew to distract him from the day he also cherished.

I had always felt like my father was the lynch-pin of our family, that we were all dependent on him for certain things. He could make you laugh in an instant even when you felt like the world was slipping away from you. He would drop everything he was doing if you needed him – you only had to ask (and sometimes you didn’t even have to verbalize what you needed, he just knew). I have countless memories of him laying a blanket over me while I slept on the couch, picking me up after a bad day at work or school, or bringing me home a memento that caught his eye and made him think of me. I like to think that in the last year of his life we were all there for him the way he was for us throughout our lives, though I know that needing to be taken care of drove him nuts. He had an unyielding independent spirit, and prided himself on being able to take care of us. He was the best father I could have asked for.

I miss him greatly, miss seeing his smile when I walk in the house, hearing his voice when I call, listening to his laugh while he played with the kids. Most of all I miss him when I think about the future – the wedding where he won’t walk me down the aisle, the children who will never know his love, and the life that I can’t share with him.  Today though, I will go to his grave with my mom and brothers, and we will eat at his favorite restaurant and remember all the things that made him a wonderful husband, a great dad, and a good man.

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