Happy Birthday Honey!
I know. It won't officially be your birthday for one hour and one minute but that never stopped us from celebrating early before. Heck. We were celebrating days before and days after because after all...you didn't like birthdays. That is why, I baked your apple cakes and usually planned on your rib eye steak and potatoes and onions, or perhaps potato salad. That is why the kids bought you presents you would never use, but would save, still in their packages, under the bed. That is why you would ask Shannon "Whatcha gonna get me for my birthday, Bapper?" And then sing "Happy Birthday to me...and Sheree."
How could I have known Honey, that those silly little things you did, would be the things that would be the most important memories to me. I don't think about the amount of money you made. That doesn't matter in the least. It's picturing you sitting and bouncing our children and grandchildren on your knee singing "Ride the Pony Brown and Small." It's watching you grab hold of their outstretched hands and throwing them up into the air. It's the way you hiked up your pants and the little hop you made when you did it, and your little reading glasses perched on the end of your nose. It's the little hole you had in the bottom of your foot from when you ran that stick into it and the scar you had on your butt from when Dennis Sorensen accidentally shot you with a BB gun when you were little boys.
It is your anger over injustice, and your ability to forgive. It's your sleeping with your bible under your pillow because you had heard me tell our children to do that to ward off bad dreams. I close my eyes, and I can almost feel your hand that I held for more than fifty years. It's a rough and calloused hand because you were a rough and calloused man but mostly only on the outside.
Happy Birthday Honey. If you were here, you would be trying to convince your sisters Tessie and Sandi that you were the younger. How you hated getting older, until you found out we got senior citizens discounts and then getting older wasn't so bad.
Your last Birthday with us, we spent at the Silver Gulch in Fox, Alaska. You asked Ashley's boyfriend Perry what he got you for your birthday. I can remember you sitting there with the candles of your birthday cake aglow and for a moment then, I knew, you wouldn't be with me on your next. I swallowed that fear as I did quite often the three years we were in Alaska. I knew Alaska would be where you would live out your biggest dream on your bucket list...to be an Alaskan, and I knew Alaska would be the place where you would die.
Well Darling, your birthday keeps rolling around and all of us who love you so much will keep celebrating. Perhaps it will be balloons reaching towards the sky. Perhaps it will be a birthday letter written to you from your wife. Whatever honey, it is still the Whiting Family's National Holiday.
With all my love far beyond the 12th of Never.