Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today is my dad's birthday.
It feels odd to say that word. I have never called a man "dad" before. Mine passed away before my first birthday after what I'm told was a fierce battle with melanoma.

Throughout my life he has remained a fictional character from stories told to me by family members. I have seen his face in countless pictures, and I’ve even read some of his journals and notes. I have been given a very thorough biography of him over the years, yet he is a stranger. I have patched together fiction and fact to try to make him something I could somehow hold on to. I used to dream of him, but he always looked suspiciously like Kevin Cosner.
As I’ve gotten older I recognize that these are just the juvenile attempts to create memories that I simply don’t have. I still wonder what it would be like “if”…but it’s a pretty pointless exercise.

There is a picture on my desk of my Dad sleeping next to me soon after I was born. It is one of very few pictures I have of him with me and it’s the best one. If you have kids, you know that feeling you get when you wake up and see your new baby snoozing next to you. There is nothing better-regardless of how many kids you’ve had. That picture is solid proof that at one time, my Dad looked at me and held me and loved me.

His death left my mom a young widow and single mother of 5 and as a result a few things have been drilled into my head since I can remember.
1) Women should get a college education or maintain a skill that could support them, regardless of whether or not they plan on working. Plans change. My mom never expected to be the sole provider for 6 people, but we all know life never goes as planned.
2) Sun is not our friend. In moderation we can be causal acquaintances, but that is all.
3) If you notice a mole changing shape or color, go see a doctor ASAP!
Life is precious.