Birthday Stream of Consciousness

Today is my dad’s birthday. I said that to someone who hasn’t known me for long and she brightened, “Oh? How old is he?”

“Well,” I paused and closed my eyes, “he died five years ago, but he would have been 70 today.”

Later, I thought about whether or not I should have phrased things differently. Maybe it’s not his birthday anymore. But it is. My entire life, Dad’s birthday was on October 11. It still is his birthday. To me, it always will be.  And as the child who was always vying for his attention and praise, I reveled in sharing a birthday month with my Poppy. Like it was some special, exclusive club we belonged to and our privileges couldn’t be revoked. I mean, you can’t change your birthday, right?

Last week I started thinking about how the UN has declared October 11 “Day of the Girl.” Wondered what that means cosmically – that my dad, who was a macho, manly-man of the first order shared his birthday with such a designation.  And while I remember him being a chauvinist, it is tempered with the knowledge that he was a product of his generation and upbringing.  While he resisted my efforts to do ‘boy’ things like play soccer, he ultimately came around and taught me how to wax a car and change the oil, he supported my desire to go to medical school and married more than one bra-burning feminist (not my mother).  By the time I was a mother, he was firmly in the camp that believed that my girls could accomplish anything and ought to be afforded the opportunity to try.

And then, just fifteen minutes ago as I filled out a fax cover sheet (who requires fax communication anymore, people? Honestly, let’s just go to email, can we?) I realized that the full date today is 10/11/12. To me, the numbers speak of a moving forward, an inexorable march of progress.

I know that these are completely random observations, but I can’t help feeling that there is some congruence, some magic about today.  Maybe it’s my way of conjuring up my dad once again and finding ways to honor him and his growth curve.  He truly went from being one of the most rigid, wounded souls I have ever known to a loving acceptance of himself and the people in his life in the span of the 35 years I knew him.

Happy birthday, Poppy.

6 replies
  1. Alicia D
    Alicia D says:

    my heart is sad for your loss. it sounds like you miss him dearly still. i think its good to remember his birthday… that's what keeps him present in your life even though he's no longer here in the physical. 🙂

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Dear Kari, I think October 11th will always be your Dad's birthday, and that the most beautiful gift your dad and yourself gave each others are the last few months you shared before he passed away, true honest, emotional time you lived together.

    Yes, moving forward, with beautiful memories, with him watching over you,

    – Isabelle

  3. Carrie Wilson Link
    Carrie Wilson Link says:

    My mom's birthday is also the 11th. My dad's was the 8th. I always keep track of how old he would be and think of him on his birthday. Feels right.

  4. Deb Shucka
    Deb Shucka says:

    Happy birthday to your dad. I still write my mom's birthday on my calendar every year, and Kathleen's, and probably always will. I love how you wove the two ideas together, and how much your love for you dad continues to grow after all this time.

  5. Dee
    Dee says:

    Dear Kari, happy birthday to you and also to your father. This is such a beautiful tribute to him and to the resilience of the human spirit. Your father embraced the possibilities of both change and growth. How wonderful for you to see that happening and to know the journey he was taking and had taken. Thank you for sharing this. Peace.

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