Today, my father would be 63 years old. Happy Birthday, Dad.
It’s been 18 years since I last shared a Monty Python joke with you, or played guitar together, or compared our painting techniques. We have hybrid cars, advances and disasters in space tourism, landline phones are practically extinct, and my cellphone is more powerful than the last desktop computer you owned. Voyager 1 crossed into interstellar space, we lost another space shuttle, and we’ve landed a robot on a comet. Pluto is no longer a planet, we mapped the human genome, and the Triceratops is actually just a baby Torosaurus. There’s more I could tell you about the Twin Towers, ISIS, and the rekindling of the Cold War, but you don’t need to hear about that foolishness.
I would like to say that the IRA came to peace with England, but it didn’t last. I would like to say that we’ve cured AIDS and Cancer, but the progress there is lacking, and treatments prohibitively expensive. I want to tell you that we have learned the care and maintenance of this home we live in, but climate science says otherwise.
Your daughter is married, and has a beautiful home, and a hard-working husband.She has a beautiful daughter of her own, who inherited the Holland talent. She works hard in a career showing intelligence, drive, perseverance, and dedication. I am very proud of her.
I was a selfish kid the last time you saw me. I’ve grown up and I have a fulfilling career as well. It has taught me a lot I never knew about telecommunications, radio sciences, and what I’m capable of achieving. I don’t know if I can ever fill your shoes, or be the man you were, but I’ll never stop trying. I may not have the charisma you did, but I will always try to find the bright side of a day, the joy in a smile, and work every day to make this world a better place. I will do what I can to spread positivity in this world that needs it. I’ll borrow your Elvis impression, sick jokes, and dry wit when necessary.
Someday, maybe I will be half the man you were. Watching you paint and build signs for so many years has made me picky about font spacing, hearing you play Spanish classical guitar inspired me musically, helping you build furniture and roofing taught me to swing a hammer, and having you mentor so many young boys through Cub Scouts showed me how to give back by being a mentor to foster kids myself.
Every year that passes, I notice less and less of your work hanging. Most of the signs have faded, or businesses closed, or logos updated. Once in a while, I still drive by one of yours (even if someone obviously freshened the lettering up with a new coat of paint), like finding a hidden personal treasure. You may not have signed your work, but everyone in town knew of it, and I feel that something vital is disappearing as it all gets replaced with vinyl-cut lettering and computer generated designs. There is an organic quality, an analog talent that just isn’t there anymore.
The world has changed, from healthcare debates to gay rights to climate concerns. Would we share any views on the issues or not? I’d give the world just to argue and disagree the conclusions, if only to have one more conversation.
I miss you, dad. I’ve wished for your opinion so many times; I’ve wanted the benefit of your experience. I have a list of questions a mile long that I never got to ask, and I had a million chances to have told you what you meant to me that went wasted. I’m trying to answer life’s questions myself, and just following the best example I can. Thank you for being that example. Thank you for the years you spent as a father to me, thank you for teaching me skills and laughter, and thank you for showing me how to be a man. I just wish I had done it while you were here to see it.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I love you Dad. Happy Birthday.