Today is my Dad’s birthday, and he is 67.
Which is cool, obviously, but kind of not a big deal. After all, he’s done this birthday gig 67 times now 🙂
But, here’s the kicker.
This is the first time my Dad has celebrated a birthday without my Mum for about 42 years.
I don’t like thinking about how alone he must have felt when he woke up this morning.
The strange thing is, when Mum was alive, Dad’s birthday was always the minor event. That’s because Mum’s birthday is the very next day, and that date is also their wedding anniversary. And let’s face it. Dad would step aside every single time if he thought that there was something he could give to Mum. Even on his birthday.
So, to have Dad in the full spotlight, with no fuss and bother about to begin for Mum was really quite strange for all of us.
We asked Dad if he wanted us to come to him, or maybe meet somewhere closer to his home, but he said he would like to come up to the Coast to us.
So, breakfast on the deck at the House of the Hodges it was 🙂 I told Dad that he had to fit in with our rules. Birthday boys and girls always choose breakfast here. “Just whatever love” was not an acceptable answer. And so with a bit of fun defiance, and refusing to take that for an answer, Dad he said he wanted pancakes.
Yum!! Pancakes for breakfast is ALWAYS a win!
With caramelised banana and icecream 🙂
Dad got here a bit later than he said he would arrive, and Dad is always early. For everything. When he walked in he had a hanky in action, so I suspect there were a couple of teary stops for him on the way to the Coast.
But he was quick to smile and happy to settle in to the chaos of breaky with our lot.
After breakfast was consumed, there was more time for chatting, and warming up again. Apparently the breeze decided to be directly from the Antarctic today!
We headed on over to Suzie’s for lunch, where the usual positions were adopted. Ladies in the kitchen and men ….
you guessed it. The men were on BBQ duties!
There was certainly much manly discussion today. Cars and muscle cars and engine sizes. And once again, Rob was able to prove his manliness to us all with yet another wall knocked down!
Giving us the perfect opportunity for a classic Wakefield photo!
After lunch, we had fun and gave Dad his gifts.
Despite the sadness and loneliness of life without Mum, there are still plenty of smiles from our Dad.
And plenty of silly, as Dad does the classic “hurl a ball of wrapping paper” move!
The only time I saw Dad struggle with his new life, was when we sang Happy Birthday.
But that’s the reality of living with grief and loss. It comes. It goes. It comes back again, sometimes when it was completely unexpected.
Just last night, I struggled to get to sleep, as my mind kept walking me back into the hospital room with my Mum, after she had passed. I shared this with Suzie, and she said that she had been finding herself back in the moment that she realised Mum had passed, and flicking on the hospital room light to see the heartbreaking truth.
And yet, we are able to sit with Dad, smile from our hearts, and know that life is good. Even without our Mum, and for Dad, without his beloved Brenda.
My Dad has shown me so much more of himself in recent times.
That is probably not the whole truth. I have allowed myself to see him, to truly see him and the depth of his resilience.
He has walked his path of grief on his own, because really there is no other way. And yet, he has never forgotten to reach out to us girls, our husbands and his grandchildren, to make sure that we are all doing OK too.
Dad, we are truly blessed to have you with us.
Happy 67th Birthday!
Even though this birthday must have sucked, and been the absolute worst ever, I still hope it was a great birthday for him.
I wonder if it is only those who have grieved a special loss who will understand that the worst birthday might also have been great.
There is something so very precious (and wonderful) about the truth of life and love and connection that is revealed by grief and loss.
And so now, my Dad is 67. And I am thrilled to be able to say that.
Especially knowing what I will be saying about my Mum tomorrow.
She would have been 63.