I’m writing on your birthday again with the news that I am officially celebrating one year of blogging, and I want to thank for giving me a final push to get started!
It happened like this: last year, for about the first six months of 2013, I really wanted to start a blog, a place where I could share my writings and musings. (You remember how I always loved to write?) I had a vision for this blog, as a place to talk about my passions, and finally share some things in my heart. Perhaps even provide the last bit healing I needed. But man was I scared to put myself out there. So by last June, I had actually created my blog — name, website and everything! But I couldn’t figure out what to write. Or even find the nerve to publish anything.
Then your birthday arrived. So many times I had reached for the phone to tell you something that I knew would make you laugh. But within seconds, I would remember that I hadn’t gotten to see you or give you a hug since 2009 (f@#%ing cancer). And, sitting at my computer last July 26th, my heart filled with a desire to share with you all that you had missed. I started clacking away at the keyboard. Soon I had this letter written. And because I really wanted to post my very first piece of writing on your actual birthday, I just closed my eyes and clicked the publish button before I had time to back out.
So now a year has gone by and to my delight, this little blog has grown. I write about my kids — the ones you loved so much — and my love for Italy, your proud heritage. Writing makes me feel full and happy, and often more connected to you. Every day, I still find reasons to feel grateful to you, and the life and love you gave me.
So speaking of those kids…. I’m sure you’re anxious to hear about what’s been going on with them lately! They continue to bring joy and love to my life beyond measure. Even though the boys both grew taller than me years ago, I still see their little boy faces smiling at me from their overgrown, teenage bodies.
Your firstborn grandson will be EIGHTEEN on his next birthday (I know, right?!?), and is starting his senior year of high school in August (!). He’ll apply to colleges soon. I truly don’t know how so many years have passed by so quickly, but I know he’s ready and looking forward to this new chapter in his life. He is a happy, easy-going and grateful young man; a good son, brother and friend. We’ve had a health scare with him over the past couple of years, which I won’t go into because I really don’t want to worry you, but if you can, send some extra love from up above his way. Know that he finished a rigorous junior year very well, and blesses us all with his positive attitude and his sweet and kind spirit. Like any teenager, his time is filled with school, friends, and activities, and, with just one year of high school left for him, I especially cherish any time we spend together.
Younger Son is just weeks away from turning 15 and starting his sophomore year (I KNOW!!). He still keeps us hopping from activity to activity, and infuses our family with excitement and enthusiasm. He works hard in all he does — school, sports, music, church — and I can easily say he’s got the most diverse interests of anyone I know. Example #1: he’d like to learn falconry some day, which first involves catching your own falcon from the wild. Example #2: he’d like to teach himself how to fix up old cars in order to restore something to a safe enough standard for his mother’s blessing, and preferably before his 16th birthday. He sets high goals for himself, and then figures out a way to achieve them. He made some very impactful and difficult decisions this year which required significant short-term sacrifices. We are so proud of his character and maturity, and his ability to think about the bigger picture of his life and his place in the world.
Then there’s Baby Girl. She was so little when we said goodbye, Dad. But even though she was just four years old the last time she got to snuggle with you, she still talks about you a lot. And misses you deeply. It’s equally precious and heartbreaking. She remembers she liked to hug you, but says she can’t remember the sound of your voice. 😦 But enough on that. You will love to know that this little almost-third-grader has more spunk and spirit packed into her than seems possible in her petite 4’1″frame. She makes friends wherever she goes (just like Grampa!), loves to read, write and draw, and especially loves school. This year she started playing lacrosse (so cute!) and the violin. I’m so thankful that she found her way into our family, even if I’m the oldest mom at the elementary school. Remember that lunch we had together, years ago, and we were doing the math of how old I would be when she graduates from high school? “I’ll be almost 50!” I said. “No Stace, you’ll be almost 60….” you corrected me. Still, every day I’m grateful to have our little bonus baby.
Dad, losing you was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. Things are not the same without you, and every milestone and holiday, for me at least, has a tinge of bittersweet to it, although I’m grateful for the years we did have together. You’ll be relieved to hear that, after so much time, my grieving turned a corner. For so long, even the happy memories would make me cry, and my heart ached constantly. Finally, now, I’m truly able to laugh at our happy memories together, and to remember you first with the joy of having you, and not the pain of losing you.
Looking across the years, there are countless things to thank you for. You have always supported everything I wanted to tackle in life. That’s why it’s so like you to find a way to encourage me and be a part of my life still, even if we don’t share the same space anymore.
You are missed every day. Happy birthday, Dad.