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  • Writer's pictureTracie Guy-Decker

My Father's 73rd birthday

Today would have been my father’s 73rd birthday. I say would have been, because he left us ten years and two weeks ago.

My relationship with my dad wasn’t always an easy one. I think he never quite knew the right way to interact with adolescent and then adult daughters. Also, he often defended his wife who emotionally abused me for much of my life. That’s the kind of thing that can get in the way of a parent-child relationship, even when the child is 37.

Even still, he was the first man I ever loved, the one to whom all others are compared. He had an easy smile, a healthy skepticism, an unwavering devotion to his grandchildren, and a powerful moral compass. I am who I am, in part because he was who he was, warts and all.

I think I thought that after a decade without him I would miss him less. And I do miss him less frequently, but not less intensely. In fact, just last week I had one of those dreams where in the dreaming it turns out the reports of his death were a mistake.

It is mind-boggling to me how much of my life this pillar did not experience. He never saw the house I live in–and have lived in for 9 years and 8 months. He only knew my daughter in infancy and through her first year, so he barely knew me as a mother. He didn’t know me as the deputy director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland nor as the co-host of a successful podcast. He’s never seen one of my gratidoodles or the videos I make with Emily or my karate promotion photos.

It’s also bizarre to realize I’m now catching up to him in age. He was 26 years older than I. But now he’s only 16 years older. It is humbling and awkward to think of it that way, and also, I am gaining greater empathy for him. He wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot (no one is), but he really was trying. And he truly loved me and my sister. And at the end of your life, what else can you ask for but to truly love and be loved?

Love you, Dad, on your birthday and every day.

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