Yesterday was a hard day. It as my dad's birthday and although I miss him everyday it was much stronger yesterday. Off an on throughout the day I spent time remembering how we celebrated his day over the years. I figured out that I really only missed a couple birthdays (two when we were in PA) over the course of my lifetime.
My dad was a lover of food. In my family for our birthdays we usually went out to eat to the choice of the birthday person. Dad always choose BBQ or Red Lobster for his birthday. They were his favorites. We also usually celebrated with a cake. For many many years my grandmother made our family's birthday cakes. My dad especially loved chocolate and his favorite was a family recipe "Uncle Lee's" chocolate cake. It is a simple but old recipe that includes sour milk and boiling water. It makes a fabulous rich and moist cake.
Dad spent four years here in our little part of Kansas once we moved back. We took him to his choice of restaurant, the kids made or signed cards, we always had a gift, and we had Uncle Lee's chocolate cake. The last year he wasn't up for going out to eat so we brought in BBQ for dinner and ate with him at the nursing home. I usually bought him clothes or something he needed like an electric razor. Last year I bought him a big box of different snacks and candies from the local bulk candy store. He really liked having snacks in his room to munch on.
Two of my boys have January birthdays also. A lot of time we celebrated them all together. Yesterday we went to eat at the new BBQ place that just opened up and agreed that he would have loved it. I thought about making a cake but didn't for a number of reasons mostly that I didn't want to end up eating most of it myself.
Since his death I have had some guilt and spent time wishing that I would have done more. I wish I would have had more patience and spent more time with him. Yesterday though was one of the first times that I didn't have those feelings. We always worked pretty hard to celebrate his birthday and make him feel loved. It's almost like a sigh of relief to be able to say that.
During some of the hard early days my priest who I am very close to gave me advice that has comforted me so much. When I told him about my guilt he asked me "did you love your dad"? I said yes of course. Then he asked me "did your dad love you"? Again the answer was yes. He then asked me "did your dad know you loved him"? I looked at him and said yes I think he did. My priest then said "I know he did, and that is all that matters."