(Featured image: My father holding newborn Jaycie with 4 year old Jordan on his legs)
Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 75 years old. The last birthday we celebrated with him on this earth was his 68th because he walked on in October of 2009. He was more than my father; he was my best friend, confidant, supporter and a man who showed me how I deserve to be treated and cared for by a man. I’ve yet to meet his equal and I probably never will. I was blessed to have him for as long as I did and I’ll always be “Daddy’s little girl” no matter what age I am.
Special occasions like today are always hard without my dad and his birthday marks the first of many special events during the spring and summer. Every summer birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day feel a bit emptier without him. I miss his hugs, his laughter, his smiles and his voice giving me sage wisdom and advice that I still hear in my head to this day. I feel him in the sunshine, the glow of the moon and the scent of spring flowers. I see him on the wings and in the watchful eyes of hawks as they fill my world. I’ve inherited a lot from him, including his strength and determination and I know his spirit is with me every single day.
My father’s spirit sticks around with more than just me, he’s with everyone he loves. He had a special connection with my youngest daughter, Jaycie. After my father’s strokes, he had physical limitations and his mind wasn’t ever quite the same. Jaycie has had mental and physical developmental delays all of her life, but she’s finally catching up! There always seemed to be a sense of camaraderie between my dad and Jaycie, as if they both understood what it was like to face challenges and rise above them. For a while after my father walked on, Jaycie would occasionally say that she saw him or that she knew what he was doing in heaven. She may not see him anymore (or not tell us if she does) but I know he sticks close to her and the amazing light that she is.
Jaycie is participating in the Special Olympics today and it’s her first time doing so. I’m sure she’ll have fun, do well and that it will be a great experience for her. I think it’s a perfect way to celebrate both her and my father’s eternally strong spirits. I went to the send off for the Special Olympians at the school this morning and Jaycie marched out all by herself looking like a movie star with her sunglasses on. I wished her luck and gave her a kiss and she was all smiles!
My father’s spirit will watch over Jaycie today, urge her on and beam with pride, of that I’m certain. He used to volunteer for a horseback riding program for children with Cerebral Palsy and whenever I would go with him to help, I could see how much joy it brought him so I’m sure Jaycie doing the Special Olympics today is a birthday gift he greatly appreciates. Although he can’t physically be here to help Jaycie shine, I know that today, his spirit shines even brighter as he watches over all of his greatest gifts: his family.