It was dads birthday yesterday. Sweet 61 he turned, but it wasn't too sweet of a day for him. I called him in the morning to wish him a happy birthday, but he didn't answer. So I left a message telling him so and that I loved him. I went on to get me and his presents ready for the day.
Dad's oldest brother passed away this last summer. The last time he was here, somebody took a great picture of them all together as brothers and sisters, minus my dad's baby brother who died 15 years earlier of suicide. I thought it would be awesome to enlarge the photo and put it in a nice frame for dad to hang in his newly finished basement. And then of course, there was a bag of Raisinets, his FAVORITE! I highly disagree on the taste of them. Chocolate covered peanuts, you have me, but raisins? No way!!
As a few hours went by, dad never returned my call. I wondered if we were still on for dinner and couldn't get a hold of anybody to find out. I called dad again, no answer. I called his wife, no answer. Totally out of character for my dad to not answer his phone or return the missed calls. So I made one more attempt to dad's wife's daughter. Dinner was still on according to her but I didn't want to just show up since I hadn't heard anymore about it from her mom. Dad's wife called. Dinner was still on, but dad woke up in a not so good mood. He wasn't answering his phone, he didn't want to talk to anybody, he didn't do his weekend grocery shopping routine with her, he was mad that she planned anything for his birthday and had invited the family to celebrate. He was just pissed.
He was so different last year. We all went to Vegas for his 60th birthday and HAD A RIOT. I suppose with all that has happened in the last year with Chad, dad is living with a broken heart and sees nothing remotely happy about celebrating his day. For him, it's just another day, another day closer to death.
I was pretty devastated to hear how grouchy he was. After all, I was excited to see him and give him his present and just be with everybody. AND...actually get to go outside with the nice weather. But I questioned whether we should even go or not. Does he want us there to celebrate his birthday? Than again, my oldest is leaving Saturday, so I of course wanted him to see his grandpa before he left for who knows how long again. I just wasn't sure what to do.
I went. Walked into dads house and there he was, in his spot, on the couch. I was hesitant to say too much, not knowing what I would get back. I gave him his present and said happy birthday. He loved the picture! "D" sat on the couch with him and I figured it would be a good thing for dad to have some "manly" bonding time. Maybe that would relax him, so I hung out in the kitchen with the girls.
As family showed up and hours went by, dad loosened up a little. He even smiled when he blew his birthday candles out. We had a GREAT dinner. Steak, baked potato's, cooked carrots (HIT OF THE DAY I must say), salad and Better Than Sex cake (HIT #2). Chattering going on every which way, the boys outside playing catch, and some family time that sadly for me, doesn't happen very often.
Chad had called earlier in the day but I missed his call. I knew, that he knew, it was dad's birthday and we would be at his house, so I knew he would call back. I stayed for as long as I could, hoping Chad wouldn't forget to call since I'm the only one who can talk with him by phone. Nobody else has set their phones up or their numbers have been denied for whatever reason. It's quite the process getting approved for anything where an inmate is concerned. Right as I was getting ready to leave, the call came in. Dad got to talk to his boy on his birthday and "T" and "B" got to talk to their brother who they haven't spoken to since at least last summer, before everything happened.
I was so happy Chad called, just in the knick of time. Dad got to actually hear the words "Happy Birthday" in Chad's voice. I hope it mended dad's heart for just a minute or two. I know my dad is hurting. I know he carries an unexplainable amount of guilt as far as Chad is concerned. Chad is one of his own, the one who is in prison for the rest of his life for taking another's life. The one who was plagued with drug addiction. The one who had so many opportunities, so much going for him, and let it all go because he was addicted to drugs.
The reality of who Chad could have been and what he could have done vs. who he is now and what he did, has changed dad for the rest of his life. It eats him alive. I try as much as I can to let him know how much I love him and how grateful I am that he is the one I call dad. But I also know his heart has been torn apart, not just by Chad, but by many things over the years. He's fed up. He's tired and I know at times he would much rather be gone than have to deal with the in and outs of everyday.
I enjoyed my Sunday afternoon/evening with my dad and the rest of the family but I cried myself to sleep, wishing he wasn't so hurt over so many things. Thinking of how things might be different today, the here and now, had life's downfall's in the past not unraveled what we all knew and were accustomed too as children. Hoping that having the rest of us there meant just as much to him as if Chad would have been there. Sometimes I feel like even though he still has 4 other kids besides Chad, it's just not enough for him. I don't doubt my dads love for me. But he's broken and he's bitter. He's 61 and had enough.
I understand dad's pain. I know the hurt....the anger....the disbelief and frustration Chad's addiction has caused him. I know what I feel as his big sister. But I am also a parent. And as the mom to my two boys, I know how powerful the love of is for your own. I want my boys to be happy and enjoy life. Be who they can be and follow their dreams. I want nothing more than for each of them to reach for the sky and earn all they deserve. Just like my dad wanted for Chad along with the rest of us. So it's no wonder the cuts remain open for my dad when he is faced everyday with the fact that his son, Chad, was a heroin addict who has been convicted of armed robberies and homicide, and is now spending the rest of his life in the prison system.
Regardless of how dad was feeling on his much deserved celebration of life day...his birthday, I love him with all I have. He has contributed beyond belief to the woman I am today. He has been my rock when at times I had nothing else to hold me up. He is who I call when I'm in the dumps or simply just to say "hi dad". So for every ounce of hurt or anger he had in him yesterday, I still hope he had a "Happy Birthday" and knows how much his first born, me, loves her daddy.