You’ve been gone for so many years Dad, and still sometimes it feels like it’s brand new. I’ve missed you for nearly 48 years now, and your loss hasn’t gotten easier over the years. It’s just something I had to learn to live with and accept, yet the hole in my heart it left behind is just as big and the pain burns just as deeply. I am in Germany for your birthday this year and I am close to your final resting place. I don’t know if that makes a difference as I carry you within my heart every day, but I am sure that I will visit you and Mom many times during my duration here, and for sure, I am here today, on your birthday. Happy Birthday Dad…I love you.
I have a feeling that I will have company with me when I come. It’s your older brother who is born just a few days before you…well, and some years. I wonder if you celebrated your birthdays together growing up. I have learned that he has cared for you a great deal, having to come to terms with your loss in his own way and he will always see you as his lil brother. I can see a smirk on his face when he talks about you and I am sure you two have shared some stories of mischief. I hope I get him to tell me a few of those stories while I am here. Just the other day he told me that he found a video of you holding me in your arms while I was still a baby and I’m waiting for him to show me. Maybe I can show him some old pictures of you with your clique and he might know a person or two himself of the people you hung out with in your youth.
I have to confess something and talk to you about something. It’s no secret that I have always shared a special connection with your brother and I never quite knew the exact reason. I can’t pinpoint it to one thing and perhaps it is his sense of humor that closest resembles your own nature, always ready to crack a joke and not seeing life so seriously. Always caring for family above all, and always wanting to protect the ones that mean the most. Maybe it is because he has always treated me with respect, even as a child. Or maybe it is because I saw you in him once you were gone. He became my legal guardian and I never knew it until just a few years ago as I had to dig through papers after Mom passed. He had forgotten all about it and never had to spring into action. Mom always took well care of everything, and there was never a need for him to interfere.
Living in the US, we never got to see each other a lot, yet the connection was there and intensified in 2019 as I was back for Mom’s funeral. His wife was in the hospital at that time and I was able to give him a lift a few times to visit her. We had a lot of time to talk and we got very close to each other, especially once his wife passed just a few months after Mom. We shared grief and pain, an understanding of what it’s like and we leaned on each other. I remember telling him that it felt weird and empty not to have parents anymore. I told him that I felt like an Orphan, and I told him about the paperwork that I had found saying that he was my guardian. The memory of it came back to him and I feel there is more to it, that I simply don’t know yet.
What followed next happened very fast but felt natural. He told me that in that sense he was my 2nd father, that I was and that he wanted me to be a part of his immediate family. I started to call him Dad. It was for the first time since the age of ten that I could use this word, addressing someone close to me and it had a good ring to it. It was bittersweet and it brought to the forefront all that I had been missing all of this years. A father, my Dad, YOU.
It was the beginning of January and I was back in the States as he emailed me an adoption certificate that his oldest son made on the computer, officially adopting me and welcoming me into his family. It looked very professional, almost like it was the real deal, not that I would have known what the official document, if any looked like. I was overcome and I burst into tears as I saw it. I felt very touched, even loved and cared for. I thought it was sweet and generous, but soon I would find out that he was serious about the adoption and wanted to legalize it. Even while I was still in Germany, I remember that he mentioned to family that I was his daughter. Not the daughter of his younger brother, but his daughter. He introduced me this way to other family members like he wanted them to get used to the concept. It felt good to feel this care, the love of a father I never knew, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I enjoyed us being closer and it gave reason to the closeness I had felt towards him all these years.
Two years have passed since then and he has been serious about making it legal through the courts. The legal process has been started and he is hoping that we can finalize it while I am here. I can feel how important this is to him and I can feel a story behind it, but I don’t know the reasons in great detail yet. I do have to wonder about the importance and after all he just turned 85 years young. And because of it, it has also become important to me. He wants to experience what it’s like to have a father daughter relationship before he leaves this world, and perhaps I seek a similar feeling, wondering what it’s like to have a Dad, although I know that in my heart you will always be the one, my true father, the one I miss every day. Now I sit here and I wonder how you would feel about it if he adopted me! You already know that nothing will ever erase you from being my father and the person I have looked up to and missed for a lifetime. And I don’t think that this would be what he wants anyways. He is not here to erase you. Your memory is strong and it lives not only within me but also within him. I wonder what your relationship was like with him. Would you be at ease, knowing your older brother is looking out for me and is helping spread his guardian wings around me.
Dad, I miss you and you too always treated me fair, like an adult, never once raising your hand at me. There was never a spanking, but there was a love that was unconditional and undying. I miss that. Every day, I miss that. I miss you. Now I am here on your birthday, with your older brother, standing at your final place of rest and I wish that I could talk to you and see you again. I am sure your brother has already talked to you about the adoption and I bet he talks to you a lot either way, regardless of the subject. In the end every road always leads back to me and to what I think about it and to what I want. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t consider if this could betray you in any way. I can’t see it and I know my loyalty and my heart and it’s definitely not like I am turning my back on you. I know my heritage and I need to learn more of the reasons. I know I am bringing purpose to his life just as he brings purpose to mine. Still there are a few questions and I need to understand why this is so important.
I love you Dad…happy birthday. 💙