May and June are busy birthday months in my family. No sooner have we thoroughly celebrated my brother then it is time to light the birthday candles again to celebrate dad. This year is a milestone birthday for my dad. One of those years that is both exciting and heavy. While he can at time be “bummed out” by this, it is so hard for me to comprehend that he is aging at all. My dad is frozen in my mind at a particular age and there he remains timelessly the same to me. When I try to describe my dad the word that continuously comes to mind is selfless. Throughout my life, he has always put his family first. He worked tirelessly to secure our happiness, health, and safety. I am incredibly lucky to have won the genetic pool and found myself in my family with my dad for a parent. Growing up with a commercial airline pilot for a father always elicits a familiar question, “Was he ever home?” And, to be honest, he was always home. He made sure to be home for every play, recital, game, and various event my brother and I had going on in our lives. He was a constant presence and I seriously cannot recall a single time wishing my dad was at some occasion. One of my favorite childhood memories was waiting for him to come home. In our old house, we had a long entry hallway that ended in our living room. I would wait in the living room and upon hearing the key in the door, I would race top speed down the hall right into his arms shouting “Daddy’s home!” all the way there. We would hug and embrace and I would take his hat for him and we would walk together upstairs to his room where he would put down his luggage and I would place his hat on his desk. Then it was time to sit together while he ate a late dinner and we would catch up on school, friends, and general childhood gossip. We all vied for my dad’s attention from the minute he got home. One of our favorite common topics was our pets. My dad and I are animal lovers and love having a menagerie of cuddly critters at home. One afternoon we went on our unusual visit to the animal shelter to “just look” at the puppies. Once there, we browsed through the kennels to pet and cuddled the dogs until our eyes caught on the littlest puppy of them all. We knew at once we would conspire to bring him home. The little guy was named “Lucky” because my dad liked to say he was lucky he made it home to us (as in, we were both lucky mom did not freak out on us for bringing a puppy home). Lucky was estimated to grow to be 10 pounds or so according to the shelter. But, after about two months it became clear they were very wrong. Turns out Lucky was part Doberman Pincher and part German Shepard. He was quite large at 9 months at nearly 90 pounds. My dad and I would joke that every time dad came home, the dog had doubled in size. It is crazy to think that that time was so long ago, yet because of my dad’s love, affection, care, and constant support my childhood memories don’t feel like distant shadows. Rather, they are bright and vibrant because he did so much to ensure that our family thrilled. He loves us all so deeply and we are so lucky to have such a committed father. On my wedding day, he married David and I and in that moment I could not have been happier to have the two most important men in my life standing with me at the altar. My dad is my real life hero, my constant love, and the most generous, funny, and admirable father. I just really hope he has a tremendous birthday today!
Today is my brother’s birthday. When we were growing up, I could always count on him to play with me even though I was five years his junior. Each summer, for two weeks, our family would trek down to Florida for a beach vacation. The only two kids within miles, we created a variety of games to entertain ourselves. Splashing around we pretended to swim from sharks (ironic as he was in fact bit by a shark later in life), shout “marco…” “polo”…, and run top speed into the ocean. We were obsessed with digging deep holes in the sand. We could spend the entire day just digging a giant pit and pretending we were heading to China. Our giant pit once even became the nest for a sea turtle. In the afternoons, we would take a 1 mile walk to the pier and back and I would often listen as my brother and father talked about aviation. Afterwards, we’d head up to the apartment to eat sandwiches while watching Chips or the North Shore on TV. We probably watched that movie a hundred times over the summer. We bought boogie boards and tried to stand up in the waves and my bro eventually graduated to surfboards. We grew so close over those vacations. They were always the highlight of the year for me. I had him all to myself and did not have to share him with his older friends (and potential girlfriends). We were just kids, just siblings. Now watching him become a father of his own still boggles my mind. How did we ever get old enough to have our own families? Even in this new phase of our lives he is a beautiful model of love, compassion, team work, playfulness, planning, consideration, professionalism, and integrity. I love my brother so much and I just want to wish him a very Happy Birthday today!!