Happy Birthday, Dad!
My dad was born 99 years ago today. He died in 1988, 6 weeks after TP was born, two weeks after he turned 80, and 1 day shy of my 34th birthday. He had two goals toward the end of his life - to live to be 80 years old, and to see his youngest child (me) become a mom. God was merciful to grant Dad the achievement of both of those goals.
My dad was a rugged fireman and bricklayer. He had an 8th grade education, grew up in a fun-loving Canadian family with Irish and Scottish roots (in fact, there is a little town in Scotland which bears my maiden name). He met my mother and instantly fell in love, but she wouldn't marry him until he converted to Catholicism, which he did. He was never a religious man, but he believed in God and hard work and having a good time and loving his family - so I believe his shortcomings were far outweighed by the good in his heart and his actions. I was, without a doubt, my "daddy's little girl", and I knew how to wrap him around his little finger. When I became a teenager, and right after the loss of my mom, Dad and I had many bitter fights - but we grew closer once I was out on my own. We grew to respect each other, and we were more alike than different in many ways.
A year or two before my dad died, he was in the midst of congestive heart failure, so we were called to his bedside. He was obviously in great distress - his arms were thrashing repetitively in a motion similar to the one he had used when laying bricks years before, and he was talking about all sorts of things of which we couldn't make sense. There was great discussion amongst my family members about whether or not we should "let him go peacefully" or put him on life support. The decision was miraculously taken out of our hands the following morning, when he began to dramatically improve. He pulled me aside for a private talk, and told me that he had seen mom the day before! He had also seen his brothers and a friend who had died a couple of weeks earlier - all of them were urging him to return to earth to finish his life, and that they'd be waiting for him to return someday. There were tears in my dad's eyes - because he honestly believed that he had had a glimpse of heaven! I had tears in my eyes, too, because here was a guy who'd never even heard of an out-of-body experience, actually having one - and it drew him closer to God in his last years of life.
So, Daddy, I know you're in heaven now, celebrating your birthday with Mom and all of our other loved ones. Say "hi" to Mom for me, let her know I'm doing fine and so are the kids. I miss you, and I look forward to seeing you some day for all eternity. I love you!
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