What do you get for the guy who has everything, for the father who wants for nothing?
What do you get or say for or about the father who gave you the ultimate gift eighteen years ago?
When a kidney is the ultimate gift you could give someone, how could anything from the daughter who received her father’s kidney even compare?
You write something?
If you are a writer you do. But wait…
What can you say that doesn’t sound silly and disingenuous?
How can words, yes even words, how can anything fully express what this man means to his family?
To his daughter?
Thanks Dad, thanks for making any gift I could possibly ever give you fall much too short. Thanks for upping the bar so high, that someone as short as I am could never hope to reach it.
He gave me his kidney, but I did actually need it. Not the kind of thing he usually does.
Okay, okay, so I won’t be giving him the gift of a comedy routine anytime soon, if this gift of words is any indication so far.
He’s the father so he would do anything for his child. I don’t know how to do this though, to be a daughter.
I want to do more, to be more, to show him what he means to me, what he’s done for me. To push through these massive blocks, these writer’s blocks in my head, to slush through the muck in my brain, to pass the wall of tears that threaten to burst forth. To master the gigantic lump at the back of my throat as I type.
That would be nice, just to get these words out before his sixtieth birthday comes to an end, before he’s sixty and one day. Before one more day goes by without him knowing, without him hearing, without him feeling the impact he’s had, the influence he’s had on the person I am.
For what would I have to do, to say, for him to know his value by degree?
For this is not Father’s Day, but somehow, it is. No tribute for his sixtieth could sound all that different, when written from a daughter’s point-of-view.
And what music could I possibly settle on, to include here along with my words? All the songs and the artists he showed me, of those he loves, which could I choose for this gift?
I have your fears and your doubts. The way you doubt yourself, fear you’re enough, good enough for anyone or anything: I have that too.
But don’t begrudge this. These things bond us, relate us, give you and I a place to go, the tie that binds.
You brought me up on music, a constant background noise, a soundtrack for living, for pain, for joy of life.
For all the beautiful places you’ve shown me, for as far back as I can remember. These places, near and far, they’ve provided me with lasting memories and the gift of travel. Your love of the world is where I found my own.
The sensitivity I carry is yours. You gave that to me.
The empathy you feel is the one I feel too. Those truly terrible things in the world that have happened, are happening, or ever will are the things you’ve taught me to notice and to not let pass me by.
All the gifts I could ever give you for all this are none I can buy, but I can state it all for the record, to imprint them permanently, somewhere where they may never be lost.
Does it help, does it matter, if you hear how these last sixty years have harboured all this? If I told you these things, would that make you see, make you know, give you peace?
Because you, your very existence, your place as my father gives me all that and more, as much as I could say that would give me peace too.
That we could share this gift, the words, those that are more than I could ever give you in things.
It’s that Father of the Year prize you never did receive, though you’ve qualified ever year since the 1980s.
It’s that perfectly wrapped birthday present, that perfect card no store could ever stock.
Be proud of the birthdays you’ve had, of these years you’ve seen go by. Have pride in the hard work you’ve done. It’s been instilled in your children. I’ve seen that clearly of late.
It’s those tiny, seemingly insignificant things, the ones you shrug off and let slip you by.
Don’t discount anything you’ve done. I have what I have because of you, not in spite of.
There’s nothing I could find to give you, anything that’s worth more than the words I write. I give them to you, present them to you, with love and pride for the man that you are.
Happy Birthday Dad