June 5th

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  This photograph was taken in July 1975… my Dad navigating his boat… one of the things he most loved to do.

He would have been 81 years old today.

He died in August 1975 at age 47, just weeks after this priceless photograph was taken.

There is not one moment of those 34 years that I have not missed my Dad.

I missed my Dad at my wedding.  I am his only daughter, and he always sang Daddy’s Little Girl to me and told me that he would cry a river at my wedding.  Instead, I cried a river alone on that day.

I missed my Dad on those beautiful days when a much-wanted pregnancy test was positive.  My Dad always told me how much he wanted grandchildren.  He would tease me about spoiling them and then going home… exactly as I do with mine.  I missed him holding my babies and I miss him holding my grandchildren, hugging with his giant warm hugs that I came to cherish as priceless gifts.

I still miss my Dad on each of my birthdays.  He is the one who loved to decorate our cakes.  He is the one who always stood behind the camera shouting, “Smile!”  He is the one who captured moments that I have come to cherish as priceless.  On my 22nd birthday, my Dad was captured in a photo that means the world to me.  He would not be here on earth to celebrate my 23rd.

I miss my Dad each time I run.  When Barry and I were married, we moved to what we in Rhode Island call the other side of the bridge.  In that case, it was the East Bay.  You would think that this bridge is as sprawling as The Golden Gate.  It is not.  This is the George Washington Bridge and it takes all off 3 minutes to cross, in traffic.  But 4 years ago, Barry and I moved to this side of the bridge… the West Bay.  I spent my adolescent years very close to where I now live, and my Dad had a small boat docked in our local harbor that he loved.  He was retired from the Navy.  He loved the water.  I loved my Dad, and we spent a great deal of time together on that boat… conditioning it for summer, sailing on our spectacular Rhode Island waterways, diving off the side, preparing it for winter.

When I began to run to prepare for my first Sprint Triathlon many weeks ago, I found myself running down to the harbor.  Some days were frigid.  Some days were windy.  Some days were gloriously warm.  Some days were rainy.  But on each run, I felt my Dad.  I felt his giant warm hugs.  I felt his goodness.  I felt his smile.  On more than one day, I found myself sobbing… sobbing like a baby as I ran by our dock, our place, our haven.  On other days, I found myself waving.  On most days, as I run past the very place where I spent so many beautiful moments and days with my Dad, I smile at the sweetest memories that I have come to cherish as priceless.

I did not have my Dad long enough.  He did not have enough birthdays.  He was a good, good, good man… and I have never reconciled his sudden death with how the world continues to turn.  I know he has sent me Barry and my beautiful children and grandchildren and wonderful friends.  I know he is proud of me for taking care of my Mom as he would have.  But my heart is filled to the brim and to overflowing with the things that I would have shared with him and said to him.  In person.  In his giant warm hug.

Today, I wish to celebrate my Dad and his birthday.  My Mom always had a nice little family celebration for him… and, of course, he sparked up the grill, made his perfect hamburgers with his hamburger press and tipped a beer in cheers.

Tonight, I will tip my beer to my Dad.  I know I will be crying.  Because tears are pouring from my eyes as I type.  I miss you, Dad.  I cannot express the depth of this missing.  I know you are here.  I know you are with me each moment.  I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I will see you down at the harbor when I run there today.  I LOVE YOU!  And I still cherish each moment of my life because you are still in it…

Now, please hug your Dad today.  Please give your Dad two giant warm hugs and send one to heaven for me… for my Dad… on this most special day.  I know my Dad will get it!  And I know that he is smiling his giant warm smile!

June 5th was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (10)
  1. What a beautiful and touching tribute to your dad. I understand your pain. I lost my dad when I was 15 and he was 39. His birthday is June 8th, so I have been thinking of him even more often. Even though I will soon be 42, I will always be Daddy’s little girl in my heart. So here’s a long distance hug to you and your dad!

  2. I’m crying, too, my dear friend.
    I remember. I remember.

    You look so beautiful and happy in these pictures.
    You always do, beautiful on the outside, and just as beautiful on the inside.

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Mr. K.

  3. Sharon, thanks for sharing – sending you lots and lots of hugs. I found it so unfair to lose my dad when he was 70 (when my husband still had 3 living grandparents!); it’s tragic that your father died at 47. 🙁

    Clearly his spirit lives in you and has passed along to your awesome daughters. What a gift. And I imagine he sees it all.

    -Christine

  4. The more I read your blog, the more I find we have in common. I also lost my dad when I was 22. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and all that we missed together. I especially was missing him today when we buried the man who swooped in and took my daughter under his wing after my dad died. He was my sister’s father-in-law. He was my girls’s grandpa Johnny and we all loved him so much. I’m sure he is up there with dad now, showing him pictures and telling him stories about all the grandkids and great grandkids. They haven’t seen each other in almost 32 years. I’m sure they are enjoying the reunion. They were two great dads. I love and miss them both.

  5. Such a great tribute to your dad and to your relationship. My dad (always “Daddy”) would have been 93 on May 26th. He died in 1982 at age 66 and, like you, there is not one single day goes by that I don’t miss him, wish I could talk things over with him, just sit and watch the dusk fall with him. You said it so well. Thank you .

  6. Oh, Mom… this is beautiful. Just beautiful. It just dawned on me this second… yesterday in the pouring rain as we were leaving Stop and Shop, I was buckling Benjamin into his carseat… fast, of course – because of the rain. For some reason, I looked to my left and there was a GIGANTIC bouquet of balloons about 100 feet away. In the pouring rain… and I just remember focusing in on Pink and Purple ones. I just connected the dots this second. xoxo, Audrey

  7. I looked at this again after reading your balloon blog. What an amazing, beautiful photograph.

    If I look at it a moment, it seems as though your Dad is looking directly into my eyes.

    It is a comfort.

    Love, Connie

  8. I read this after reading the purple balloon story. OMG, I am a mess Sharon…I need to re-apply my eye makeup. I can’t tell you how this post made me feel. I take so much for granted with my dad, who I am blessed to have still living. I was going to stop on my way to work this morning to have coffee with he and my mom, but slept a little longer. After reading this, I will go over tonight to give him that hug. Thank you for reminding me to NOT take what we have for granted. You have really opened my eyes with this post. It is so special that you still celebrate his birthday. I loved these pictures. He was so handsome! And you were a knockout girl!

June 5th was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto