I wonder what we would do today, if you were still here. How would we celebrate? It's perfect that your birthday falls on a Sunday - even better that it's during the summer. I'd like to think the family and I would have come up for the weekend. This morning we'd all go to church together, find us a pew that would fit all our families. Just like you, I believe the best way to begin and end the week is by worshiping "the one true king" and fellowshipping with extended family and friends.
Afterwards we would all come back "home" you'd get out the grill and barbecue some chicken complimented by some salad and topped off with home-made ice cream. It' nice to think that Grandma would still be there. She liked to bring sliced peaches. A perfect topping for the ice cream. I know you liked adding grape nuts to yours. I admit, that was good too. The birthday cake would be lit like a forest fire, but some how you always managed to get them all out on one big blast of air. Today would be no different. As the smoke filled the air, little hands would reach out and grab the candles to lick the little amount of icing off the ends.
After dessert, your granddaughters would be outside running, exploring and laughing periodically coming to give their Pee-Paw a hug. That's what Rachel called you. Remember? You would toss them up in there air, growl into their necks when they'd fall back into your arms. And you'd kiss them and call them pumpkin before they would run off and continue to play.
It would soon be time to cool off and we'd turn on the Phillies. Of course it wouldn't be the great Harry Kalas calling the game, but we'd watch and you would most likely be the first to fall asleep.
At some point we'd give you presents. Perhaps books about cars or some plants or trees to place around the house. Maybe even a Brian Wilson cd. Speaking of which, your granddaughters enjoy The Beach Boys. We listened to them often this summer for the first time. Sophie likes singing along to "409". I'm sure you've heard her.
A movie at night would be a possibility. You always liked westerns, but I think you just appreciated good stories more than anything else. Remember going to Dead Poets Society? That was twenty-six years ago! Can you believe it?
You liked golf too. Village Greens has one of the best miniature golf courses around. Best in Lancaster by far. I remember my brothers and I went to a pitch-n-putt course. You came along, but were too tired to get out of the car. That was tough to see. I'll never forget the effort you put in to coming along that day when your body was telling you just to stay home and sleep. You always put the effort in - to everything. You always said, "If you're going to do something, do it right the first time."
There is no first time with life. True, you get second chances, but all-in-all you get one shot. One chance to do it right because we don't get to come back. You did it right, Dad. Right enough for me to know what I want to be and what I need to be. I'm not the man I want to be, but because of you, I know the man I'm aiming to be.
While this "memory" was nice to think about, I know it wasn't meant to be. I am not angry at your loss, but rather grateful for time we had. I don't spend much time thinking about what would or could be. I do sometimes picture you with my girls and how much they would love their Pee-Paw. But those thoughts are reflections of what will be some day. Some day when we reunite...so get the Pontiac ready.
Happy 64th, Dad! Love and miss you every day.