To be honest, Dad was never much for birthdays. Growing up the youngest son of nine kids, there were years in there where birthdays sort of got lost in the shuffle.
In fact, for most of his life, Dad didn’t even know his actual birthday. An aunt was adamant it was Aug. 4, but not everyone agreed, and Aug. 8 ended up becoming the day he would celebrate his birthday, if there was a celebration to be had.
It wasn’t until social security kicked in, and his birth date was released to him along with other documents, that he and my mom noted his true, recorded birth date of Aug. 4. Aunt Mabel had been right all along, it turns out.
Dad’s not with us here any longer, but anyone who’s lost someone dear knows what it means when the birthday of a special person who’s gone on rolls around. I’ve felt those little tendrils of grief sneaking up, and they’re never welcomed, but it’s only been his second birthday, now, post-death, that our family has faced this date, and I think I’m doing okay.
I’m becoming more accustomed to Dad not being around, and at the same time, being around more than ever. There are so many ways his spirit lets me know we’re still connected, and I’m grateful for each of those moments, whenever they come. Sometimes, they come in dreams, and they are wonderful.
I’m so glad my father was born on Aug. 4, 1935. Not just because without his life, mine wouldn’t have been possible, but because his presence brought something unique and unrepeatable to the world, and even those parts of the world that never had a chance to know him have been affected because he lived.
I really believe that each one of us makes a profound difference to everyone else, and I’m so very grateful that my father’s mother, Mary “Daught” Boyle Beauclair, loved big families and lovingly welcomed my father, her “Bobby,” into the world. They had a great relationship — strawberry ice cream was her favorite, and to find himself in her good graces when he was a teen, he would spend some of his hard-earned money from babysitting or washing sheets at the hospital on some strawberry ice cream, just for her, and a little for himself too, I’m sure.
I wish I could have known my Grandma Mary — she died before I had the chance — but I knew her through her son, who helped give me life, taught me how to love nature, and let me know that no matter what, even if everyone else in the world would turn their backs on me, he would always love me.
Even now, at 45, I still need that assurance. Even though I can no longer go up to him and ask him, I still need to remember how he put it the day I felt so low and he brought me back up with his words. Even two birthdays after his death, I haven’t gotten over the need to wish for his big bear hug, though I know it might be a while before I’ll feel it for real again.
Dad may not have been much on birthdays, but I’m hoping he’s past that now, and that from his new location he’s smiling, okay with the fact that we are thinking about him, honoring his life in our own quiet ways, looking forward to when the bear hugs and birthday cakes will be once more.
Happy 79th birthday, Daddy. Love, Rock