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Today would be my dad’s seventy-sixth birthday, if he’d lived this long. He died in February 1997, at age fifty-seven, the very same age I am now. I was thirty-nine when he died. If I make it till my birthday, I’ll pass my father’s age. It’s a weird, unsettling thought somehow.
Some years go by, and I don’t remember Dad’s birthday until it has passed. I feel guilty, disloyal, when I forget it. Yet I know for sure that he would not want me to have those feelings. He’d be glad I’ve reached the point where each dreadful anniversary goes by and sometimes I forget. August 6, the birthdate. February 12, the death date. Father’s Day, in many ways, the day that hurts most.
Still, even if I miss those dates, I think of Dad often throughout the year, when the good and bad things happen in my life. More than anyone else, I wanted his approval, wanted him to tell me he was proud of me, and couldn’t wait to share the big things. The new job, the new apartment, the new guy, whatever it was, I always wanted to tell him first and hear him say how proud he was and how he loved me.
When I do think of him, I wonder, if he could see me now, what would he think.
I’m not one who believes that our beloved dead look down on us and either watch or intercede in our lives. They paid their dues; their lives’ toils ended, and they shouldn’t be worrying about us here below anymore. However, if he is looking down, what would he think of me today?
After Dad died, other family members told me how much he’d worried about me over the years. Worries he never wanted to share, because he was proud of my independence. He worried if I’d be able to continue working and supporting myself. He understood the difficulties of trying to be employed when you have a disability. He’d taught me to be independent and to believe in myself, but he knew that most of the rest of the world didn’t see me that way. He worried about what would happen to me if my JRA continued to worsen, if I lost more range of motion or became more disabled from it. He worried that I would be alone. He wanted me to spread my wings and keep flying in the face of all the odds against me, and so, he never shared those worries. But now I know, and now I wonder, what would he think, if he could see me now.
Knowing how much I wanted my own home, what would he think of my condo? The last thing he was trying to do before the last major attack of his cancer, was to find out about computer training for me. What would he think of the fact that I went on and got that training, and now, I do tech support for a major adaptive tech company?
Would he worry that I have no medical insurance, and that my arthritis gets worse all the time? Would he worry that I am so alone in my life, that my siblings and I rarely talk and haven’t seen each other in nearly seven years? Would he be sad that I am not married and don’t have any children?
Would he be proud that I am still working? Would he love my condo and be thrilled? Would he walk in my door, plop himself down on the couch, pull me onto his lap and listen quietly to every little detail of how it came to be? Would he still roar with laughter at my absolute ignorance regarding the game of golf?
Does he look down and growl with frustration over what I am or am not doing with my life? Does he wish I’d gone another direction? Would he like to take me by the shoulders and give me a good shake, or would he like to wrap his arms around me and give me a good hug? Or both? Does he wish he was still here with us? Is he finally at peace?
Yes, I wonder, what would he think if he could look down on me now?

“Daddy, can you see me? Daddy, can you hear the words I say?
My life has changed since you went away, and I need to know that I’m doing okay.
I’ve done all I can to make you proud,
“Daddy, can you see me now?”

Daddy Can You See Me, Anita Cockren