Happy birthday Dad 

Today would have been Dad’s 75th birthday. I haven’t been home to celebrate a birthday with him since he turned 64, and now that I’m here, he’s not. Sigh. Because we celebrated the last 10 birthdays with him over the phone or on Facetime, I wasn’t sure how acutely I would feel him missing here today – that is anymore than any other day. Sometimes my brain convinces my heart that he’s just gone on a trip for a while and I’ll be seeing him soon. Denial, it’s a difficult cloak of protection.

Turns out I miss him quite a lot.

Dad loved going for walks. He was always trying to get someone to go outside and do something with him – walking, skiing, swimming – he just wanted to be outside. Today I wanted to honour his memory by walking along the ridge by our house – one of his favourite places to be. It’s actually one of the spots where we scattered his ashes, and a place where I haven’t been strong enough to walk along since.

Today I knew I needed to walk there. To go to the place that Dad loved so much and where he found so much peace.

I stood at the spot where we had scattered his ashes. I cried for a long time. Thank goodness it’s a beautiful, warm November day or my tears would have frozen on my face and that would have made a sad situation an awkward one as well. I stood and cried and looked out at the view and just let all my emotions flow. It was both really hard and really easy. I had a lot of clarity come to me in those minutes I stood there thanking Dad for all that he had given to me.

Dad was always so good about making sure that I knew that he loved me no matter what. I never had to worry that I would ever do something that would make his love for me falter in any way. As I go through life and realize that so much of what is called love is conditional it gives me an even greater appreciation for this pure and true emotion of love. What a gift to have, what a gift to give.

I stood there and thanked God for the beautiful place we live in. Dad wanted to spend eternity in the spots he loved so deeply and being there brought me such peace and comfort.

the view along the ridge where we scattered the ashes

I walked for a while with my Dotted Dog and her Naughty Puppy Friend before getting a text from Jacob that he was on his way. He walked up and joined us and we walked the rest of the ridge together.

It was so calm and warm. It felt beautiful to have the sun shine its healing rays on us while we walked and laughed over memories of Dad. The kids miss him so deeply, he was such an important force in their lives. 

Last year at Christmas Dad and I walked the ridge and for some reason decided to stop and take our first ever (and what ended up being our only) selfie. It was the last walk I took with Dad, even though I didn’t know that at the time. We had such a deep, spiritual conversation – I’m so thankful we had the time for those kinds of moments.

omg it was so cold that day

Jacob and I stopped at the same place today and took our own selfie in memory of Dad. I think he would have really liked that we were out there together remembering him. 

After I was back home, I was sitting at the table with Jenna talking about Dad. She leaned over and petted my arm and said “I bet you really miss him today”. Then she said “If it makes you feel any better, while you were out on your walk I went up to my bedroom and sang him happy birthday” and then she burst into tears. So, we sat at the table and cried for a little while. Then we found a video that she and I had made last year on his birthday wishing him a happy day. We cried some more. We did manage to keep talking through our memories until we found some that made us feel better. There are lots of good memories.

I’m pretty lucky because I had a Dad who loved life and loved to pull us into it at full force. Even when I’m sure he wasn’t interested in what I was doing he was always there to listen to me and to talk about things or to watch me do things (the hours that man spent at the side of a riding ring watching me go round and round on my horse. Both my parents spent ages in the heat or (usually) the cold watching me ride).

I work hard at continuing to walk through my grief. I miss him like crazy, but I know he would want us to jump into life with everything we have, without fear. I don’t want to deaden my emotions, I want to feel them deeply and breathe through the tough ones. If I don’t feel the sad emotions, I also won’t feel the joyful emotions. I am on this happiness journey and Dad has been a big part of that. I find happiness in new experiences and I find happiness in memories. As proof of that, my happiness moment today included remembering all the love and fun times shared with Dad, and also experiencing fun times with Jacob (and those crazy dogs) on our walk. There is more tearful happiness to come tonight as my sister and her family join us for a family supper at home.


Halelujah, Mr. Bean

We decided today was the day to start church shopping. It’s only taken us 6 months to get to this point, but better late than never I suppose. There are many reasons why it took us so long (laziness, summer, not sure where to go, wanting to sleep in….) but the one reason that had truly held me back really came to light today in service. It was hard for me to be in the house of God and talking about heaven and not think about Dad being there. Which is fine (no it isn’t) except for the sudden outbursts of tears I am prone to, and I wasn’t really excited about bawling my eyes out in front of a bunch of strangers who could ask me what was wrong. Because having to explain all that is just difficult.

So, I did go to church with a little anxiety today. I’m already socially awkward and I really didn’t need anything extra to have to worry about. Not too far into the service the minister started talking about heaven and God being there and loving us,  and my eyes started leaking. I can’t help when it happens, and once those tears start rolling they don’t want to stop. Actually, sometimes I think I really need to stop some afternoon and just have a good cry. I think I would probably feel better after it.

Fortunately God took pity on me and decided to break things up a little bit as the next hymn was All Creatures Of Our God and King. Beautiful hymn, but all I could think of was Mr. Bean singing in church and I couldn’t stop smirking. I really hope no one was looking very closely at me as I’m sure they would think I was prone to violent mood swings.

It was exactly what I needed though. Mr. Bean is awesome. But, aside from the much needed humour he brought to me, I needed the reminder that we are all awkward and “uncool” and weird at times. I was all blury eyed not really able to read the hymn words, but like Mr. Bean as soon as the Halelujah’s came along I could sing them loudly and with meaning. Then back to blahhhh blaaaahhhh blahhhh.

My happiness moment was sitting in church with Jenna beside me, Dad in my heart, and Mr. Bean in my brain. We all need each other, no one can walk through this life alone.

Yesterday I wrote about how beautiful the sunsets are here, and how I prefer them over the sunrises. Well, this morning when I woke up I was treated to this view out my front door:

Just a simple reminder that both the beginning and the end of things are beautiful and important.