Happy Birthday Dad

My dad would have been 88 years old today. It's amazing when I think of what he saw in his life time. He grew up during the Depression, joined the Army and went to Germany during WWII and came home on the Queen Mary. When he got out of the Army he married my mom. She was a Texas girl, born and raised in Temple, but he convinced her to move out here to be with his family. My dad went to work for SoCal Edison and worked there until his retirement. Then he started refinishing antique furniture that he use to sell at Vet's Antique Swap Meet when it first started. Guess that's where I got the antique bug from. He loved my kids. His grandkids meant the world to him. He loved cats, and my mom. My mom died four days after Riley was born. As I've always said, I think she just hung on long enough to know Riley was here healthly and safe. When my dad died, they said the cause of death for my dad was Alzheimer's complications, but I think it was from a broken heart and he passed away on Valentine's Day, five months after my mom died.

My dad made me crazy most of my life, especially as he got older and struggled with the dementia/Alzheimer stuff! It was just the nature of our relationship. He was "head strong" and I guess looking back, so was I. When I look at the picture above of me and my dad, it brings back the good memories. There is something safe and secure being held in your dad's arms when you are little. I remember when our roles changed and it was my turn to take care of him. He accepted it, and evenually I did too, although it was still was difficult. But most important, I think he trusted me and hopefully felt a little more safe in the confused mind he now lived in.

After my mom had died, and he would hold Riley in his arms, he would "always" tell me, "your mom would have loved this baby" and then get a big grin on his face. That was always a hard one for me, always a struggle to keep those tears from streaming down my cheeks as I told him, "yep, she would have loved Riley". Last Valentine's Day, which was a year to the day my dad died, Riley looked at a picture of my dad and said, "Papa", that's what my kids always called my dad. No one ever taught Riley to say this, no one ever said anything about the picture, it just came out of her mouth. This morning, on my dad's birthday, Riley woke up and looked at Katie and said, "Papa", which freaked the hell out of Katie. I guess this is kind of what life is about, you know. Those you love may not be here physically, but they are always with us in our hearts. I never thought I'd say this, but I do really miss my dad, especially arguing with him, that was our speciality! Happy Birthday Papa, we love you.


delighted heart said...

Memories of our parents that have gone on to heaven can sure be bittersweet. My dad would have been 87 this month but left this earth in '87. My mom joined him just 2 years ago. I still get hit by waves of grief at times. I take comfort they are no longer in my past but are now in my future. So glad your parents got to see little Riley. Your Christmas pics are great! What a wonderful time you all must have had! Here's hoping you have a great New Year and blessed 2009!

Malisa said...

What a heartfelt post! Love and differences and aging and growing up...and changes!

Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

Hey: Thanks for writing this about our dad. God, he was a pistol, uh? We have some funny memories and hard memories. Like you, I hang-on the the good ones. I thought a alot about our dad on his birthday. I am sure papa would be delighted about the new life coming soon! Here is for an outstanding 2009 for our family and everyone's family. Your Sister.