June 23

Today is my dad’s birthday. He is a man whose life was one full of contradictions. It was confusing growing up with him. As a little girl, I remember great birthdays, great cakes, creative tiaras, gifts and happy memories. Then when I was 8 years old, birthday parties stopped becoming a pleasant thing.

My father explained that if we were to celebrate birthdays, wouldn’t Jesus have mentioned birthday celebrations in the Bible? Thus this was not an acceptable thing in our house. Really the reason had to do with money. There was always a lack of it in our house and I suppose maybe he just found banishing the celebration was an easier way to deal with it.

For many years our birthday were not acknowledged by my father. My mom found strength to contradict his decison and had birthday parties or small ways to celebrate with gifts. My father would always disappear on the day of our birthday. He would be gone all day only to reappear once we were asleep. Yet despite that fact that he was not physically there, his absence was obvious on our birthday. I don’t think it ever felt really right.

Usually children remember a specific birthday or birthdays when they did something really special. Sammy often talks about the year it was a pirate theme… and we had everything from walk the plank to a treasure hunt. Or Tyler remembers the birthday we had the reptile zoo come into the school for his birthday. The birthday I remember most was my dad’s 50th birthday.

I remember everything about it. It was a surprise party after church… we had lunch, there were friends over, a cake, a banner, and yet most of all I remember my dad’s smile. His laughter and happiness were perfect for that moment. It is a moment that is frozen in my memories, He wore a light blue (probably polyester) three piece suit. I can see his tie, his hair is combed back and he is animated and alive.

My mom is smiling too. Maybe it is because his happiness is contagious or maybe we are safe for the moment.

My dad opens his gift from my mom. It is a video camera. Remember the big ones that rested on your shoulders? The camera become an extension of my dad. From that moment, he was the camera man. Maybe he liked that fact that he was hidden behind it. I don’t know. But after that day, the camera went everywhere.

It was a great day. I don’t remember my brothers and myself alot in this memory. I know we were there and we were happy because HE was happy.

From that point on, it was always about him. He always got the best presents at Christmas or Father’s Day. Maybe we were trying to recapture that moment… that smile… that perfect feeling of everyone being happy and safe.

It is my dad’s birthday today. It is always a day filled with mixed emotions. Yet it is a day that is easier to let pass quietly.
Happy Birthday… Dad.

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