Happy Birthday! I don’t know if you celebrate birthdays in heaven or not. Part of me suspects that time and dates of birth and death are insignificant to you now. But here we continue you to celebrate you and today especially. I remember all the birthdays we celebrated together, some quietly, some with great fanfare, some lavishly, some with simple family meals. But all to show our love for you and the wonderful family we became. I also remember that each of your last three birthdays here were spent, at least in part, in the hospital or emergency room. While I certainly miss you, I don’t miss those kind of birthday celebrations.
Do you remember how many times your birthday would fall on Superbowl Sunday? Well, it’s happened again. And many times we would celebrate by inviting friends to a Happy-Super-Birthday-Bowl party to combine the two events. Well today we celebrate both events, but just a few of us. By the way, we have no home team in the game this year. Not like a few years ago when we cheered and whooped it up in the living room when the Saints won.
The kids are all here to celebrate. They’re doing well and it’s always wonderful to have them home. Inevitably we laugh and throughout the day somebody will say “Dad would say …” or one of them will make a Michael face about something. Then everyone will laugh and recall all your antics.
Emily and I just returned from our trip to Africa. (Yes, she finally got her college trip!) You would have been proud of how brave I was to go so far away from home. The trip was incredible and I constantly thought of how you would have enjoyed it – just like all those National Geographic shows you loved watching over the years. Now she and Casey are busy finalizing their wedding plans and getting mom and dad’s house ready to move into. And, of course, she’s working on passing her test and getting a job.
Andrew is back in school and working hard at the church. His days are long but he loves all the challenges. He will be ordained in just a few weeks.
Christy and Jason are also well and will make us grandparents in July – finally we’ll be “Gigi and Pops” like we always talked about. We’ll know in a few weeks if it’s a boy or a girl.
Your mom is doing well and your sisters are taking good care of her. In fact they’ve taken her to Alabama to celebrate Peggy’s birthday too this weekend.
I try to stay busy with the various business ventures and other projects we’ve created. MGM actually has a little project we’re building for the seminary – I know you’re just shaking your head over that one! All the team are pulling together to make it happen. The farm and beach house are doing well. I have more plans to travel this spring.
It’s been over six months since you’ve been gone. Six months since I’ve seen your face and had you whisper words to me. Six months since you’ve smiled and made those silly expressions you always made. Each day the sun comes up and goes down. Each day I wonder why your side of the bed is cold and empty. Each time I see your gravestone I can’t believe my eyes.
You are well remembered here. Friends call and come by. They are patient with my tears and remembrances. I know we never liked having our names attached to things, but there have been many honors established in your memory – awards for Christian service, scholarships at colleges and hospitals, even a community garden. It seems that your visions shared with others are continuing to develop even after you’ve gone; which I guess is the best memorial of all – that you were able to inspire others to action.
There were no presents for you to open this year – you were always so hard to buy for anyway. But instead the kids each received a gift from you. A little something to keep them warm, hopefully to comfort them on those hard days, made from so many of your old shirts. You know all the old T-shirts you wore constantly, the khaki pants that were a part of your daily life, the “Big Dog” logos you were so fond of, and even a few of the button down dress shirts and ties that rarely saw the light of day. Now they will go forward with the kids to wrap themselves up in. You would say the blue backing is just the right shade to show off your “beautiful blue eyes”. And each quilt will remind the kids that “Every day is a good day”.
No, I don’t know what birthdays are like in heaven. But I’m sure by now you’ve had wonderful reunions with mom and dad, so many of our aunts, uncles and grandparents, and most especially your dad. I can just imagine how wonderful it was to see him again, feel his hug and hear him say how proud he is of you. I imagine you holding and loving on that baby we never got to know. I don’t know if there are special celebrations for you today, but I’m sure nothing compares to just being in the uninterrupted presence of God. What better gift can there be? I am envious.
Please know that we do our best to carry on and to make you proud. You are never forgotten and never gone from our hearts.
Love you my dear!