Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday Dad

This morning — Wednesday, June 12 — I sat down on my yoga mat before the sun rose and thought about my Dad. He would have been 76 today.

And I wondered: what would he think of this life I’ve made? This weird, independent, non-conforming, yoga at 3 a.m. life. It’s certainly not what either one of us expected, and yet…

When I was 8, he wrote me a letter while he was traveling for business. “I’m glad to hear you wanted to be different this year,” he said about the Halloween costume I was making.

Perhaps that same sentiment would apply to this different life that does not include the expected traditional trappings of the young woman he was raising in the 70s.

In that letter, written from a hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he also wrote that he was proud of me. That he loved me very much.

What more could a girl ask for — then or now?

The box I keep the letter in still smells like my Dad. Inside, there’s a stack of letters he wrote when I was little and when I was at UMass. Birthday cards with his familiar signature, “Love, Dad.” His watch, a stack of photos. The last photo I have of him, taken two weeks before he died, when he was just about the age I am now.

But my favorite thing in the box is a video of my Dad singing Happy Birthday to a colleague. He’s on a stage with some other people, but he has the mic — of course. He’s being loud and goofy, and obviously had one or two drinks. He’s dancing. And smiling. And signing off-key.

It makes me laugh. And cry. And laugh again …because that’s exactly how I remember him — the LIFE of the party.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.


P.S. I know that was you who knocked over your picture on my desk just now.

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