Last Tuesday was my dad’s birthday. It was a bittersweet time. My father is the only member of our family not severely ill. He’s always shouldered the care of our family; but the last six years, the burden, heavy before, has grown. We fought five-year-old Benjamin’s rare kidney cancer tooth and claw for a year. Then after his remission, our health declined-each of us fighting unique problems. Now, we cannot live at our house and are beginning the process of building a clean new home.
Part of our birthday tradition is to each write a card expressing how much the person means to us and what we are grateful for. It’s quite unofficial-ranging from short ‘n sweet, or a picture when we were younger, to more long-winded.
In my birthday letter, I chose not to focus on the difficult time we were facing, but instead, what a gift a normal day would be.
I know some of you can relate.
Someday, all this will end, and we’ll be be abe to have a normal life again. It’s easy to forget how extra-ordinary this is and just plow ahead with everyday life. But someday, we’ll be able to have a Normal, ordinary Day.
Not spectacular – no awards, no achievements will gleam, but just simple, untarnished life. There are so many things I look forward to. But thinking of them all, I can never forget that a Normal Day wouldn’t be possible if you hadn’t sacrificed and if you hadn’t been willing to have so many tough, strange, upside down days.
Thank you, Daddy.
Someday, when we finally have that Normal Day, I want to pause and marvel, look back and think about how hard every stage was, remember this birthday letter, and thank the Lord for a day to just swing on the porch. I’ll get up and smell Mom cooking a meal without any special restrictions. The fragrance mixes with the more pungent scent of the machine shed – you and Ben are working on your old truck, “Chubby.”
If the clinking wasn’t so loud I might be able to hear Gabriella, laboring upstairs at her latest project or Rachel, tripping over squawking birds in the pasture.
As I look at the house, I’ll laugh or sigh and remember that I haven’t take any medication, not because I forgot, but because I don’t need to anymore. That reminds me, I don’t even recall the last time we discussed someone’s symptoms.
The clang of the dinner bell interrupts my thoughts. Ben is the first one to wash his greasy hands. I pause on the front step and Rachel passes me and dumps her boots beside my feet. You come slower, since dads have to make sure sons didn’t leave stray tools about. As you reach the house, just-baked bread and “roast beast!” (as you tell me with a grin) meet your nose. I disregard the grease and give you a daddy-bear-daughter-cub hug.
Then you stride into the kitchen, smile at Gabby, and kiss Mom. She scolds, “Wash up!” even though you can see her smiling eyes.
I step back and shake the dream from my soul – but I’ll never lose the marvel of the blessing of a Normal Day. I’ll look at the past again and remember your hard work. And thank you won’t be good enough, but I say it anyways.