Happy Birthday, Daddy…

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Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. I forgot all about it until my sister messaged me.  “He would’ve been sixty-five … and he would’ve been so grumpy about it.”  He hated getting older.

There was a short-lived period of time where I called him Pops. He nipped it in the bud immediately.

I always forget my Dad’s birthday.

Once, when I was in college I came home to find a message on my machine.

“Hello, Barbara, this is your father. I just wanted to call and thank you for the wonderful birthday card you gave me.  It’s so thoughtful and I love how you wrote that I was the best father ever, oh … wait … how embarrassing, this card is from your brother.  I guess I didn’t get one from you.  I’m sorry.  I guess I need to call my new favorite child.”

And then the message cut off amid snickering.

He was a funny guy. Each of us was his favorite.  He’d whisper it into our ears in front of the others by turns.  We watched him do it and, yet, believed him every time.

It’s been seven years since I had to write his eulogy. It took me a week before my pen would write the words “he was”, each day before my pen betraying me with “he is”.

I’ve had several dreams about him since he died.  It’s always a crowded space and he’s suddenly there.  And I run up to him to tell him everything, about how he’s a grandfather now, how I miss him, a new joke I think he’d like.  But he always hushes me and just beams with that quiet proud smile, never more proud than when he was speechless.  He’s never let me tell him anything.  He just smiles at me.

Happy birthday, Dad, you don’t look a day over fifty-seven.

I’ve got a new one for you:  “Why can’t you tell a kleptomaniac a pun? Because they always take things literally.”

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