On January 16, 1943 my dad was born. I don’t know anything about his birth. Whether he was born in a hospital or at home. Whether he was a good baby or a tyrant. How much he weighed or if he sucked his thumb.
Today if he were still living, he would have turned 70 years old.
He wrote himself a birthday letter a fews years back. I happen to have a copy.
Happy Birthday, Bob—–Happy 55 years. A real milestone. I feel like celebrating this b.d., unlike my 30th, which went by unnoticed. Unlike my 40th which went by with hardly a ripple or even my 50th, supposedly the biggie, hardly made a dent on my psyche.
But 55 is the short side of the century mark. So that makes it a milestone in my books, and I’m finally at the age where it makes not a tinkerers damn about anyones books but my own.
A brief synopsis—–I was born into a family of five siblings, a bootlegger father, and my mother was a housewife. My family was mildly dysfunctional to say the least, my parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother struggled to keep her brood together.
I went to High school here in town, finally got laid, got drunk and enlisted in The Marine Corps just a few days after graduation. Spent four years in The Corps, traveled around the world, went to work for various construction companies in West Texas and never once let college cross my mind. Made a lot of parties—-a few friends and generally went around with my heart on my sleeve.
Anne, my wife and I had a wild, roller coaster, wonderful relationship from day one when we met in The Crystal Lounge bar, a downstairs dark, dank place where people drank, fought and loved with equal fervor.
Anne had two boys from a previous marriage that I was too young and dumb to see the joy in. We later had two daughters that have remained the light of my life to this day. The boys have forgiven my shortcomings and remain friendly toward me, too. Thanks boys.
55 years—-that must seem like an eternity to someone in their 20’s or thirties, but to me it has been but a short journey on this meandering train we call life. Meandering, wandering, everlooking for the path of least resistance, just like the nameless creek near Hoover, Texas where I gathered clover blossoms to plait into a braid for Anne’s hair.
Happy Birthday Dad—-happy 70th. Two birthdays have now passed since you left us. And lots has happened. I miss you, but it does get easier with time, but there are still days that sadness is all around me, thick as fog. I love you more than I ever have, and I’m so thankful for your writings that you left us. I feel I know you better now than I ever did in real life. I wonder why we feel like we can’t open up to others, and especially the ones who love us most? I know I’m just as guilty.
You were a good dad. That’s probably all you wanted to hear while you were living, and I don’t know if I ever told you. But you were. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
You tried your best, I know that now. It’s certainly not easy being a parent, I know that now too.
I never realized just how tender you were. You were always so tough and big and strong, that I guess I didn’t think about your feelings much. I’m sorry for that.
Thanks for being a number one dad to me. Thanks for supporting me in everything I ever did. Thanks for taking time to spend with me, even if it was laying in the floor taking kissing bets during a bowling tournament on T.V. or skipping rocks on the Illinois. I have fond memories, and those are what I carry with me now. It’s all I’m left with, the memories and your stories.
You’d really love Emma. Sometimes I imagine that you are here and see you laugh at her or hug her close. She reminds me of you sometimes. Especially now as she’s learning to walk. She’s got this stumble about her, that’s very Grandpa-esque. Or sometimes they way she lays while she’s sleeping or a look on her face makes me think of you. You are a part of her.
I know you’re in Heaven and I’m going to be there someday too. It’s good that this life isn’t all we’ve got, isn’t it? So, until we meet again Dad, enjoy yourself, and I’ll do the same. There’s much happiness here still, and memories to make with others.
I love you bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut Mississippi.