Happy birthday, Dad.
So many years, out of just bitter resentment or perhaps the typical self-centeredness of being the child, I did not do much to celebrate my father's birth.
Now that he is gone, on this, his birthday, I am filled with regret about that. Regret for the years that my anger won out and I refused to acknowledge his birthday at all. Regret for the years that I sent some lame store-bought card in the mail, but could not be bothered to visit. And regret for the years that I might have been sitting with him in the same room, saying all the right things, but not feeling the love in my heart or any real gratitude for his life.
Were it not for his birth and his absolute refusal to succumb to the burdens of poverty and neglect during his childhood, and to his own poor health during his adolescence, I would not even exist.
Were it not for his stubborn insistence on loving my mother, even after realizing that she was mentally ill, and keeping his commitment to marry her, they never would have had children, and I would not exist.
And were it not for the survivor's strength which I believe I inherited from both of them, I would not have made it through my own challenges and struggles to still be here.
So thank you for all of that, Dad, and happy birthday. Wherever you are, I hope Mom is with you, celebrating.