Happy Birthday, Dad.
Today is my father's birthday. So I went to the cemetery.
I picked daffodils from his yard to place at the grave; three cheerfully yellow spring "Hellos!" from his Babe and the two daughters he left behind. And even though I'm pretty sure Dad checks in on us here and there (when he's on a break from arguing with Grandma), I talked to him, telling him the ups and downs of life without him.
I told him all-in-all we were doing pretty good. I said he would be proud of Mom; even though her fearfulness and anxiety never really leave her, she still laughs, she still smiles, she still wakes up every morning and faces her day, ready or not.
I also told him she still pouts when things aren't going her way, a trait she once confessed to me that she was not proud of, but was her go-to strategy when arguing with Dad. I laughed when I told him she now uses it on me and The Other Girl, and yeah, it's kind of effective.
I apologized for the free rein me and my sister's pets now have in his house. My cats lounge all over his sofas, and cuddle me in his bed at night. My sister's dog, no longer banned from inside the house, drools on every surface, leaves muddy paw prints on every floor. I told him while it probably makes him cringe to see his pet rules violated, I hoped he could appreciate the smile that spreads over Mom's face in response to a wagging tail, or the peace that overtakes her when she pets a purring ball of fur on her bed.
I told him I was sorry for my continued distaste for yard work, and the fact that I spend his hard-earned money on lawn maintenance. If he wanted me to take up gardening he was just gonna have to drop by and scare the bejeezus out of me some night, and even then I'm not sure it would work. I mean, I really hate yard work.
I told him the overage in the gas budget was The Other Girl's fault, but I'd take the blame for the electric bills as I apparently have a bad habit of leaving the over-head stove light on night and day.
I told him bringing me back home was the best parting gift he could have ever given me.
I told him that The Other Girl and I had pulled it together, and become a care giving force to be reckoned with, and that was our parting gift to him.
And as I begin tearing up thinking about how far my mother, my sister, and I have come without our protector, our leader, our captain, here come my mother and sister, flowers in hand, they too making their way to Dad.
He's no longer racking up years on this planet, but I know his soul is leaping, bounding, reveling somewhere in its new adventure. So, Happy Birthday, Dad. Give 'em hell, wherever you are.