Birthdays of the Gone – Celebration, Sadness, and Memories


This is the third birthday to come since his passing. I know for some people birthdays are really hard days. I am lucky, for me, they aren’t too bad. They are more of a reason to pause and reflect on him.  Really the only thing that is different now than before his passing is that I can’t call him to wish him a happy birthday and I didn’t go to the store and get him a special dad birthday card.

I do miss those calls. The two of us would talk about a variety of things. You never knew where the conversation would go or how long it would last. Because he and I didn’t always get along, I could say or do something that could hurt his feelings or piss him off, and then he would need to go, like that moment. Because of that, I would put a lot of effort into not provoking him when we talked, but you never really knew what could be a provoking thing. I guess you could say, he always kept me guessing about many things.  I think that is how PTSD works. It is a shared mental health experience.

Typically the calls had gone well of recent years and I loved to hear his voice. There is nothing better than the sound of your parent’s voice. I loved his laugh, that was the best thing.  If you could get him laughing it would fill my heart with so much joy. That is what just brought tears to my eyes, the best parts of him.

Another thing I miss about those calls is hearing him fight with the answering machine. He had a house phone still and he would use it to screen calls, he didn’t keep his flip cell phone on him a lot. When I called it would ring until the answering machine would pick up.  If he was in the house, he would listen to hear if it was one of us kids and then he would answer.  Well, that means the machine was talking at the same time he is saying, “Hello, Hello…hang on, hang on, I’ll get that dam thing.”

At the time I don’t think I realized that this little gesture of answering the phone and getting past his answering machine was a sign of how much he loved me. I can sure feel that today as I write these words.

I think the best gift my dad could have gotten on his birthday was to no longer be on this earth fighting his PTSD and he got that gift a couple of years ago. I find the most fulfillment today in the fact that he is no longer in pain and is at peace finally.

I miss him and am sad he is not here, a little, but it is outweighed by the happiness I feel for the fact that he isn’t having to fight his mind to survive each day. My love for him continues on, that didn’t change.

Happy 73rd Birthday Dad.

LOVE your,

About the image.  I found this birthday card shortly after his passing and I have kept it on my desk since. It is my simple reminder of his love for me and my life for him.