On this day, twenty five years ago, my dad turned 36 years old. That's a quarter of a century away from me in an over-my-shoulder direction. That's 9,125 days ago. That's 219,000 hours ago. That's 5,256,000 minutes ago.
I imagine it wasn't a spectacular day for him as he was almost at the end of his rope. Within six months he would be gone. I was a Freshman in high school that year, my daughter's age, with more pressing matters on my mind than his birthday, but I've outlived him now by 5 years and I like to give him a nod on his day.
This nod's for you, dad. LY.
When I was 21 I was backpacking through Europe on his birthday. That year I gave him a nod by splitting from the group and taking a train from Germany to Amsterdam to see Anne Frank's hiding place. He had gone there when I was 11 and brought me back a copy of Anne's diary. I read it over and over, though I never told him so.
By the time I was a senior in high school, he'd been dead for nearly 4 years. Imagine my surprise when one day in the public library I happened upon a book with his face on the cover.
It was titled, There is a Way Back. I read the whole thing from cover to cover right there in the library. My dad had founded an organization called The Gathering Place to help young LDS members kick their drug addictions, and this book chronicled the journey of how they fasted and prayed their addictions away. The irony did not escape me. None of these success stories kicked their drug habit for good and almost all of them were dead, including my dad.
As soon as I got to college I picked up a pen and began to write feverishly. I wrote for 5 years straight until finally one day, like Forrest Gump, I was done running. I put down my pen and whispered, "Dad, I forgive you."
Today I pick up my pen again and whisper, "Rest in peace, Dad."
I am hoping all of my brothers and my sister and my mom can add their whispers to my voice.
Sometimes I worry about my dad. After reading one too many near-death experiences I have this image of him in misery, doomed to follow us around for eternity apologizing for the pain he inflicted on us in his presence, and in his absense.
In the movie Ghost Town, they spin the idea of haunting back on itself and suggest that maybe it's the unfinished business of the living, not the dead, which binds them to the earth.
What if our anger and bitterness keeps our loved ones from being released from this realm? What if they can't be forgiven by God until every single person they ever hurt forgives them their trespasses?
I know, I know, it's a far flung theory, but . . . what if . . . there really is a way back . . . for my dad?
I wouldn't want to ruin that chance for him with any of my lingering angst.
So today I will blow out 36 candles and make a wish that he will be granted the miracle of forgiveness.
And just in case it makes a difference, I'll add mine to the pot.
Happy Birthday, Dad. And as they say in Hawaii . . . No worries!