Today is your birthday. You are 69 today. Or you would be. But I suppose you will actually be 65 forever.
Someday, I may actually be older than you, although I don’t think I will ever be wiser.
I tell the twins about you. They want to meet you, see you again. I show them the picture of you holding them when they were just a few weeks old. It’s the only picture I have of you holding them. Because we had time. Until we didn’t.
You gave me everything, Daddy. You gave me love. You gave me things. You gave me hope. You would get so mad at me you could hit me, but you never did. Instead you would give us both space.
I never wanted for anything, which is crazy to even think about. I never knew that until I was probably 11 or 12 years old, we were poor. I had a roof over my head. I had food in my belly. I even had horses, cats, dogs and my very own four wheeler.
But while I had those things, you went without. Looking back to the day you brought home that new blue Chevy truck, that they used to call your pimp truck (which, by the way, I was too young to even know what that meant, I just laughed with our family when your brother said it), I realize that was the year you finally made it. That was the year that you didn’t have to worry about money anymore.
That was the year that not only did I have everything, YOU had everything too.
Of course you would tell me that you had everything because you had me, mom and my sister.
You gave so we wouldn’t want. You were so proud to be able to buy me a car when I turned 16. Even prouder to be able to pay my college tuition so I wouldn’t have loans and could have a future. And, even though you will never admit it, you were even PROUDER when I went to law school, graduated, got a job and made partner within a couple years. You and mom, afterall, did raise me better than to become a lawyer (or so I have been told many times).
You always wanted us to not take things for granted and yesterday, it hit me.
You see, yesterday, I threw away a pair of socks. They had a hole in them, they needed to be thrown away. But as I did so, I remembered you telling me once that it was so hard for you to throw simple things away because when you were little, you never knew if you would be able to get another one. You didn’t know if you would be able to get new socks, even if your’s were so threadbare that they offered no warmth.
Good news, Daddy. I can replace my socks. Because you taught me how to take care of myself, how to be independent and how to be the daughter you always wanted me to be. You did good, Daddy.
You aren’t here now and we miss you. You should be here, but you aren’t. So I will continue to honor your memory and do the things you taught me to.
I just hope my daughters will learn all that I have from you, through me.
So, the only present I can give you today, Daddy, is the knowledge that you did well raising me. I get it now. I will bring you the cork from my wine that I drink tonight as I think about you and I’ll celebrate the fact that although many people may say it, I know for certain.
I did have the best daddy in the world. Thank you for being mine.