Today is November 12th and it is your birthday, Dad. You would be 82 years young, as you would say. Yesterday also marked a special day for you, because it was Veteran's Day, which always falls on the day before your birthday. I remember this because you would still call it "Armistice Day", as it was once named back in the olden days. And so it is that Tristan bolted down the stairs this morning in his usual manner, but today he exclaimed "mommy, today is granddad's birthday!"
Later this morning I drove to Macon, Georgia and therefore had a lot of windshield time. About an hour and a half, to be precise. This driving time usually represents my only time alone during the day, and so my thoughts often drift to you and I begin to reminisce of special times we shared, or a funny saying that was unique to you, like "look, up the road, a head!" or "don't give out any wooden nickels". We now refer to these as "Dadisms"in my home, or "Granddad sayings", as the boys call it.
It is times like this when I miss you the most, Dad. Ironically though, it is when I am driving or hiking or otherwise alone or scared, that I sense your presence the most as well. I can almost hear your voice asking me to slow down in the rain, or maybe take a different trail that doesn't look quite so desolate. You are my guide; my co-pilot in all I do. I suppose this is the role that you were born to play. You have always been a protector. Not just to me, but as a young soldier you protected this great nation, as an officer of the law you vowed to 'serve and protect' your community, as a husband and father you protected us, the list goes on and on. You even protected those with no voice as a philanthropist; a Shriner and a Mason.
So it no surprise to me now Dad, that you are up there in heaven with our creator, protecting us yet again. They say that we are never really adults until we have experienced the loss of a parent. I find this to be a very accurate truth. And yet in these times of great change and uncertaintly, I feel somehow safe and unafraid of the future because you are watching over us. Over not just me and mine, but all of us.
I cannot say that it gets any easier as time rolls on. Being without you, that is. This sense of incredible loss is comprehensible only to those who have had to experience it for themselves. And yet my faith tells me that we will all be together again someday, and that until then I shall hold onto you with all of my heart.
With love from your daughter,