Dad, today you should turn 64.
Over the years, on this day I have always wondered, what would this day be like with you here? Would it have been just another normal Thursday? Would it be a day we made special according to our own family traditions, or some combination of the two because you couldn’t avoid us celebrating you?
I imagine you waking early, at about 0500 (still set in your military ways) and turning on the coffee. Would you be a tv news or newspaper man? Perhaps you would prefer a quiet start to the day. You would make the bed with perfect sharp edges and then iron and set out your clothes for the day. The coffee would finish and you would drink a cup as you made sure everything was in order around the house. You know so many people, making friends everywhere you go, so your phone would start ringing early. Your countless friends, brothers and sisters from the Army, your family…. all your daughters and grandkids would wish you happy birthday all day and night. It would ring and ring from calls and text messages reminding you how many people love and adore you. You would have countless Facebook messages telling you happy birthday, too. I wonder, would someone need to help you read and reply to them? Or would you be a social media independent? No, you probably wouldn’t even be on Facebook at all. Would you like all the calls and messages, or would you prefer a quiet and simple day?
What jokes should you look out for today? We’re all a family of pranksters, always laughing and playing jokes on each other, and you have no one to blame but yourself for that. So what kind of pranks would we play on each other’s birthdays? We would, of course, tell you how you’re an old man that’s a yearly staple. Would we send you gag gifts for your birthday? Would we try to scare you like you did us when we were growing up? Of course, I would do my best to not let you feel too badly about my beating you every year. You might argue the point, and I might be kind enough to pretend you had won, once.
What would our birthday traditions be? Would we all go out to lunch or dinner? Would you get frustrated at how long it takes to coordinate the whole family? Would the NCO in you come out and have you barking commands at all of us? Or would you be laid back now that you aren’t in the Army? Once we’re all there eating, would you look around at your huge family and smile? Thinking about how we are all so different and amazing in our own ways. Thinking about our similarities. Looking at all your grandkids and great grandkids and how beautiful they all are. Finding a quick second to be grateful to be exactly where you are right this moment. We would be loud (I mean you did create your own army after all), talking over each other, laughing, and catching up, would you laugh to yourself at the scene we make? When you speak, would we all immediately stop and listen, or would it take time for us to hear you?
After dinner, would we eat cake at the restaurant or go back and have your favorite, the kind one of us would make for you? Or do we each take turns making you cake? It is your day, so you would decide. We would sing happy birthday to you and tell you you were 95, because you’re so old we’ve lost track. We would laugh and you would mutter about how we aren’t as funny as we think we are. But we know we are. You would blow out your candles and make a wish and we would all hope your wish would come true.
We would all hope every one of your dreams and wishes would come true, because we all love you.
We still love you.