Today is my daddy’s 79th birthday! I guess it’s no secret how much I love my parents and how much of a daddy’s girl I am. He is my knight in shining armor and I adore him.
This past weekend, I spent time with both my parents in Del Mar, California at the Hilton (we were there on “business”).
For five days I was their “little”girl again. We went out to breakfast, brunch, and dinner, took long walks on the beach, stayed up late to watch CNN and hear how much money we lost in the stock market as the Nasdaq and Dow plummeted, and took more walks while Dad shared with me what he was reading. He is a voracious reader and this trip was no exception. He had a stack of books on the desk (five books thick) with his yellow highlighter nearby.
Dad got up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to take his morning walk by the beach (I did not!). I slept in. When I heard the door close softly behind him, I knew he was exercising without his beloved dog (Brandy), and walking alone. Sigh! (She stayed in her own “Hilton” in Brentwood.)
Daddy walks fast (really fast)—not because he wants to—but because he has to. He’s a “walking” miracle! Five years ago he suffered a devastating heart attack, which left him with about half a heart that functions. So he eats well, exercises, and with my mom’s watchful eye, he is not only surviving but thriving.
Before I left on the plane to San Diego, I had a conversation with Dad on the phone. He said, “I’m the luckiest man in the world!”
Tears welled up in my eyes as he spoke and every time I recall those words, I choke up. And then a few more tears betray me. Our family has been through more than most families (that’s a subject of an entire book!), but we remain close—very close.
The older I get, the more I look up to my dad. It’s funny how that works and something we can’t teach our kids; it’s something they have to learn on their own.
My daddy is my best friend, confidant, spiritual adviser, and political analyst (smile!). He’s a great listener (something I’m trying hard to inherit). But when Daddy speaks…I listen!
Our last day in Del Mar was a special memory…
I wanted to take a picture of the sunset on the beach (something that had eluded me during our time there). I watched from the balcony of our hotel room, as the sun dipped between two stately palm trees. I yelled out, “Dad, the sun is setting!”
Daddy has a great sense of humor and he quipped back, “Yep, it does that every evening!”
But then I explained how one day in late October, I drove five hours to Cape May, NJ and five hours back, just to take a picture of a sunset (my version of walking five miles in the snow to school!).
“Oh, c’mon…get in the car; I’ll take you there!” Dad said.
It was music to my ears.
I grabbed by camera and we were off. Daddy at the wheel is my favorite place; he always gets me there. I jumped out of the car and ran about 100 feet until I found the perfect spot while Daddy stayed in the car so we wouldn’t get a ticket. I missed the sun setting on the water, but instead I got the beautiful light show that comes after the sun disappears (my favorite time!). I basked in the glow of the violets, pinks, and purples resting on the ocean. A warm feeling enveloped me.
As I walked back to the PT Cruiser, there was Daddy waiting for me. He smiled and I smiled back. I jumped in the car and said, “Thanks, Dad!” I settled back in my seat and once again let Daddy take the wheel.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.