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Happy Birthday Dad

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. We were going to have an outside, socially distanced pizza party with mom, dad, me, Jaimie, Valerie, Michael, and little baby Patrick. Mom was pretty excited. She was going to have picnic tables with food and drinks in the garage, with chairs and a fire pit set up in the driveway.

I was shocked. A fire pit? At mom and dad’s? That seemed very off-brand. Would there also be a drum circle and house made kombucha? And when the heck had my parents bought a fire pit? It was probably a treasure they had picked up at one of their many trips to the thrift store. I don’t want to give the idea that I am making fun of the fire pit. I was down. I was in. I was all hands on deck. I was just shocked they had one. Turns out they’ve had it for almost a year they just haven’t had the chance to bust it out yet.

Unfortunately, the fire pit would have to wait to make its long anticipated debut, because yesterday morning we woke up to a deluge. That deluge didn’t end until well after lunchtime. So after some calls and texts, we decided to postpone the pizza party/birthday gathering/fire pit coming-out party until Friday.

I felt bad. My dad isn’t really a birthday person so he said he didn’t care. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s something slightly disappointing about not getting celebrated on your actual birthday. Doing it a couple of days later is fine, but is it? We’ll all smile and make do, but in our hearts, we’ll know. I was born four days ago. This is just pretending.

I think my dad has been the unheralded hero of the last three years.

There are so many little things that go into a diagnosis like I have. Little things that no one ever considers, that no doctor ever tells us. Those little things can add up and drive a person crazy if you’re not careful.

He’s taken care of our dog, which has allowed us to go see doctors in Charleston and Atlanta. He’s made soup for when we’ve gotten back and I’ve been too sick to cook. He’s been there for rides to appointments. He drove me to the airport before I left for Iowa.

He’s always looking to help more. The books arrived earlier than I expected, and he’s offering ways to help get them out ahead of time.

And that’s just the ways he’s trying to help me. He’s got three other kids he is constantly doing things for. Letting out the dogs and feeding the cats so Valerie and her husband can work full time. Helping my sisters move. If we need anything, my dad is there.

And we can’t even make the rain stop for his birthday!

So we will be there Friday night, doing our best to pretend like it’s Monday. Pretending like we didn’t come up short, as kids always do.

But the thing is, we will never live up to the things our parents do for us. Our sacrifices will never match theirs. We do our best. When we are kids we make them macaroni necklaces, when we are older we buy them gift cards and JC Penny neck ties.

What could I ever do to make up for him sitting with me at treatment for six hours on a Wednesday? Just keep living I guess. Which is what I plan on doing for as long as humanly possible.

So send us good energy for this Friday. If not we’ll do it Saturday. The fire pit will have its debut. My father’s birth will be celebrated. He will pretend like our measly sacrifices make up for all the things he’s done for us. And will continue to do. Whether we buy him neck ties for it or not.

So happy be-lated birthday to my father, Lee Nelson. Hope this trip around the sun is the best one yet.

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