Archie’s birthday. Technically he and my brother have shared it for the last 28 years. They would take turns calling each other to wish the other happy birthday on “their” birthday, but Archie would always brag that he had it first.
The first year we got together to celebrate their birthdays was at my sister Tammy and her hubby Dave’s apartment. They only had Lil’ David at that time. He’s now a daddy, himself.
I made a corny cake for the two, I think Archie may have been turning 20 and Tom 18. I made them a Sesame Street Ernie and Bert cake. The funny thing was that Archie was a couple of inches taller than Tom, and he was wearing a yellow shirt, like Bert, and Tom was wearing an orangish-red shirt, like Ernie–totally unplanned! I joked with Tom that it took a long time to find a guy who had his birthday :).
Somehow, I’m guessing Tom isn’t too happy about having their birthday all for himself this year. Tom and Archie are/were brothers, not brother-in-laws, even having the same sense of humor and love of basketball. I know it’s hard on Taylor and I, but additional prayers for Tom would be greatly appreciated, as well.
Arch said the last two years were about as perfect as a birthday could be:
Two years ago we did the “Seven Days of Archie.” He didn’t want or need anything. His most favorite thing to do was eat out, but we were the parents of a college student that her monthly tuition was more than our mortgage. Eating out was a luxury. For his birthday that year, we took him out to eat every night for an entire week. He was all smiles and said it was the best birthday EVER!
Last year was our crappy year BUT we still had to celebrate!!!! Since he worked late nearly every night, eating out was…out. Taylor and I bought him gift cards for restaurants to be used “later” (he did not live long enough for “later” to ever come), and then we scheduled a day on a weekend for the 3 of us to be off of work. We drove to Michigan, hiked Warren Dunes (taking LOTS of pictures), found a scrumptious BBQ joint in the middle of no where that had antique cars sitting around out side, visited an antique shop, then headed to a remake of an old town with the narrow streets, bought his after dinner iced coffee–all of his favorites–and finished off his perfect day.
So, what do we do now?
Grief share said to try to do what you have always done, realize it is going to be different. Yuck. Taylor and I talked about what to do for “Dad’s birthday.” Taylor had off so we carefully planned to go to the Dunes. We checked the weather, our schedules, and the time the Dunes open, 8:00 am. Since it’s in Michigan, it is a bit of a drive, so no sleeping in.
When I was going through Archie’s cards in his drawer, I came across two birthday cards Taylor had given her dad that both still contained the Dunk’n Donut Coffee cards she had given him for when he had to have a “pick me up” after work. I gave them back to her, her eyes sinking. Since we were leaving so early she quickly reminded me that she still had those cards and she’d like to use them on the day we celebrate Dad. Sweet girl.
We started off nice and early, stopping not only for coffee, but she surprised me with bagels, too! (that’s our family favorite breakfast) According to her GPS we were to arrive at 7:56 am, and off we went, but it took us a VERY county-sided way, which, I must admit, I enjoyed immensely. Our actual arrival time? 7:56, on the button. They opened a smidge early and let us drive on in. YEAH!
Just after we arrived it started to sprinkle and it was CHILLY! The water temp was a refreshing 69 degrees…refreshing if the sun is beating down on you, cold if it’s rainy out. That’s ok, we weren’t there to swim–Arch didn’t know how to swim, he just liked to walk on the water’s edge, take pictures and hike the sand dunes.
The beach was deserted. Taylor and I grabbed our camping chairs, blankets, coffees, and camera’s headed for the beach house. We sat, listening to the water, drinking our coffee and me snapping pictures until the rain let up. Since the beach was empty, we left our gear and walked to the water’s edge, just like we did last year. Last year there were scads of people crowding the shores. This year was quiet, but for the crash of the waves. We were grateful.
I got my camera back out and started taking pictures of Taylor. This was were we took her high school senior pictures four short years ago. Where has time gone….? We remember writing in the sand last year,”Happy 46th Arch.” My face had already leaked once that morning realizing that there would never be a 47th, as this is his first year in heaven. I started to write in the sand,”H-A-P-P-Y”—water washed it away. I moved up. “H-A-P-P”–washed away again. “H-A-P-P-Y 1″ SWISH and that attempt was erased, as Taylor walked around me, driftwood in hand.
She writes,”HAPPY 1st” and then stands there staring at it. I keep waiting for the wave…but it doesn’t come. I grab the camera and take pictures. She’s still standing there staring, drift wood in hand. No wave. I begin taking pictures of her with her writing. Next she leans over and starts etching something, I wasn’t sure what. She’s encompassing the sentiment for her dad in a gigantic heart. JUST as the start point meets her end, the lake laps up her message. In an unexpected instant, it was gone, just like Archie was. We both stand quietly as the wave retreats to the depths, then walk in silence back towards the beach house. My face leaks.
I go to the restroom to wipe my eyes and find my happy face (I misplace it now and again), then return to my daughter. This should not be a day of sadness. This is Archie’s very first birthday in paradise! TODAY put to shame my humble attempts for perfection for the last two years because he is IN perfection!
John 14:2 “ In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
I’m sure Arch is fully moved into his mansion, so he had plenty of one on one time with my heavenly Dad.
As for Taylor and I, after talking through what a grand day “Dad” is having in heaven, we reminisced about goofy times we had, especially when he photo bombed her senior pictures (sooo much fun!). Then we laughed and joked. I asked if I could take a few more pictures of her and she put up with me, only this time she was in a joking mood and started her “Dad posing.” It was an awesome amount of fun.
Happy Happy Birthday Archie!