Today is Dad's birthday, the first day of March and yours, the 15th, halfway through. 2016, the year after we lost you both, the year when March limps in without roars, the year when spring, renewal, rebirth all seem out of reach.
I think all of us tend to look back on our lives on our birthdays, and solitary reflection is good for the soul…summoning tendrils of sadness and regret…but bringing also joy and the quiet contentment that comes with remembrance of things past. On this day I feel doubly blessed to have lived and loved, and I wanted to share an epiphany that intruded forcibly…bringing the greatest birthday gift imaginable...an ineffable sense of wondrous awe. Hovering always at the periphery of conscious thought is the blessed awareness of the people I love, my fellow traveler through this vale of tears. But this morning, in pensive solitude…I felt you all as a powerful presence…as a celestial choir singing the Happy Birthday song…I truly felt you all as if physically present…our hearts thrumming a delicate refrain of indescribable loveliness. And I thought that there is great beauty in this imperfect world…the indescribably sublime wonders of nature…the unutterable beauty of song…Willie Nelson singing “Always on my Mind”…the baroque counterpoint of Bach…The Winged Victory of Samothrace standing in Majestic grace after 23 centuries…fragments of thought from other fellow travelers we have never met, snatches of incredible poetic utterance…”And the women come and go, Talking of Michelangelo”… fictional characters we feel we know, like Yossarion and stately, plump Buck Mulligan. But shining above all of this with effulgent brightness is the blessed assurance that Love is the one thing that makes life worthwhile. I think there is a certain amount of wisdom that comes naturally as we age and mature, and I think walking for a year in the shadow of darkness has helped me see a great light…like Saul on the road to Damascus…I see how we are transported by love to any earthly paradise beyond description…that love for intimates, affection for friends, and good will towards everybody…redeems our tenuous lives and makes our transient pilgrimage significant. For above all else, I am assured that our love is a pearl of great price, a solitary Rose blooming in a wasteland. I love you, Honey. Dad
Flash forward to 2009, the last of his birthdays I celebrated with him in person. A trip to the Crawford farm, snowed in by a blizzard which blanketed the world in white, nestled in with family for cards, movies, music, and birthday cake, and a trudge through the snow with some of the younger kids.
I remember more clearly my last time celebrating anything with Dad. Christmas 2014. During the last week of his life, Dad remarked that he was glad he had moved back to the Ozarks, to the family farm, because it was home.
You, too, moved back to Missouri, near family. Home is where the heart is.
Yesterday, or so it seems, you said I was… and then my girls were… growing up too fast. If only you and Dad were still here to see them (and all 20 plus of the next generation) grow into their talents and careers and lives. Now it's their turn to ask, Do I dare disturb the universe? But I wouldn't want to be there (young adults who have to find their way) in this postmodern society. You, Dad, Eliot, all three of you pondered, probed this extraordinary, harsh, dark, and lovely world. If only both of you were still here to share your wisdom and counsel.
Today, I honor Dad with a movie marathon of some of his favorites. From the hilarious and beyond cool Blues Brothers to Kiss me, Kate to the mysteries of Agatha Christie to the bumbling Colombo played by Peter Faulk to the sharp and witty Sherlock Holmes. At least I will watch as many as possible after work, and I will laugh and cry, but love these classics and the memories they inspire.
Today, I light a candle for Dad, and on the 15th I’ll light one for you. You were both such a blessing in our lives in so many ways, and we are blessed to call you family. So I declare March birthdays a blessing. Happy birthday, Dad. Happy birthday, Uncle David.
We miss you both more than words can say.