Today, for the first time in 78 years, February 3rd will come and go without my Dad celebrating his birthday here in this world. I know he’s celebrating, though, and not just today.

Licorice and daffodils. Two of his favorite things.

Dad was born in 1943, on February 3rd, in Marietta, Georgia. You can find a little more about him in a previous post, one that I wrote shortly after he went to Heaven last March.

It’s been a long year without him. My family has seen me cry plenty. I quickly figured out that it’s ok for them to see me cry. Of course on most occasions, I couldn’t help it. Sometimes the grief just comes in waves. Time has helped the healing, though.

I’ve gotten a lot of good advice about death over the last year. I’ve been given books, sayings and philosophies. I have had some good experience shared about how to manage this next chapter of life. One comment that I could relate to is that “A man doesn’t really grow up until his Dad passes away”. As cold as that sounds, that one seems to be a little more true every day.

The only thing I wish I had more of from my Dad was time. Time with him. Just a little. I’ve dreamt about it, literally. There’s some great comfort in knowing that’s the only thing I miss. After he was gone, I realized I didn’t want or need anything else from him other than a little more time. Other folks don’t, and apparently can’t, understand that. As it turns out, they wanted a lot more than just his time. For me, though, that’s the part about death and my Dad that I’m going to need to ask Jesus about, if St. Peter lets me through the gates. Why couldn’t we have just a little more time? That’s a tough one.

I regret my Dad leaving this world when he did. Maybe that sounds odd, maybe not, but I do. What I mean, though, is that my Dad was very young, relatively speaking. Not only in years but in spirit. Perhaps that’s why God called him home when he did. He’ll always be young. Forever. That’s how we’ll remember him. Young in spirit, young at heart. With a big mustache-highlighted smile.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me stories about how he helped them. As time has passed, the stories haven’t slowed down, and it amazes me. I love hearing every single one. Some are new. Some aren’t. It has made me realize that I have a lot of work to do if I want to even get close to measuring up. He had a lifetime of service and love, and that’s how he’d want to be remembered.

Feb 3, 2020. I sure do wish I had combed my hair!

So Happy Birthday, Pop Jim. It seems like just a few minutes ago we celebrated your 77th. We talked about birthdays and family and life. This year we’ll still have some cake and ice cream for you. Sure do wish you were here to have some too. I know you’re celebrating where you are, though. I’m sure it’s joyous. Every day, and not just today.

As you always told me, “Have some fun”. Please tell Jesus we said hello, and all of those other wonderful people we’re missing, too. I still Miss you… a lot.