All my life, November 1st was much more than the day after The Great Candy Rush. November 1st is the day my father was born 86 years ago. It feels beyond strange for the first time in my life to wake up to this day and not call him first thing in the morning to sing happy birthday as is the tradition in our family. This evening there’ll be no cake cutting. No futile campaigning for the coveted 'First Piece of Cake' (that always went to Mummy, anyway).
For most of the last two weeks, I’ve been wondering what today might be like. Would I feel crushed, empty, bereft? Well, I have my answer.
Today has been a day of quiet reflection. A day spent in the studio contemplating the many joys in my life that have been possible because my father worked so diligently to give his children access to opportunities.
As I sketched and sculpted, I did so with a running dialog in my head that recounted numerous memories from childhood all the way up to my dad’s last goodbye earlier this year. As I did so, at some point during this reverie, I realized that I didn’t want to meet future November firsts with a melancholy running tally that would always start with “Daddy would’ve been [x] years old today”.
Nope, November 1st henceforth will be the day that I use as a touchstone to remind me of the legacy my dad left for his family. This and all future 1/11s will be the day that I’ll adopt my own ritual to honor his life and to make sure my own is lived with purpose and deliberate focus on the priorities that I find truly valuable.
I wondered how I would do this, and almost immediately, four words popped into my mind, and I had to marvel at the accuracy of how they captured so succinctly Daddy’s approach to life. If I had to reduce my dad’s legacy to me in four words, they would be:
Plan. Do. Love. Forgive.
I think that’s a pretty darn good philosophy.
Happy birthday, Daddy. You gave us the most valuable gift of all.