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Dad’s Last Birthday

Click to watch a video of the morning of April 12, 2005It’s interesting to me that the beginning of life and the end of it have so many similarities. Beyond the obvious, that at both ends of the timeline you need the care of someone who loves you to help you make the transition, there is also the curious fact that references to time are usually about days, weeks or months.

And then, eventually, you start referring to years: It’s been six weeks… It’s been 7 months… It’s been a year…

My father’s birthday is today. Or rather was. He’d have been 78 today. After today, I suppose I will stop writing about his birthdays. I dunno. But this is the first birthday he hasn’t had since he was born in 1928.

April 12th has always been a part of my life as a special day—a day starting out with music, leading into a festive breakfast that my mom cooked, followed by a new tie, new socks, or a wooden something for Dad.

A year ago today was my father’s last birthday. It started out just like every birthday of his that I have been there to witness, and as every birthday ever started in our home. Dad got roused out of bed to the sound of the loud, joyful melody of the famous Happy Birthday song everyone in this country is familiar with. My mom, nearing 77 at the time, still plays piano with great flare and enthusiasm, and, as she always did for birthdays, got up early to wake the birthday boy with the only loud piano music you’d ever want to hear that early in the morning. She traditionally played the piano with great gusto, repeating it over and over until everyone was up and in the room, rubbing their eyes and singing loudly to the honoree.

This time, I was there to video tape it. I had reason to believe, despite hope, that this was my father’s last birthday (that can be a real party killer if you think about it too much).

I’m pretty sure he knew it too.

He did pass away 2.5 months later.

Observation: You stand at the Card Rack a little longer than ever before when you believe you’re picking out someone’s last birthday card.

Now, I don’t know how long the Welcome Banquet for New Arrivals lasts in Heaven… I suspect it’s a long time, given that time and space are so different there… So all I can do is hope that if it’s still going on, Someone remembers to get a really goofy party hat for Robert Darrow, whose earthly birthday was April 12th.

He’d wear it, too!

And if I could put in a request to the Host, it would be that he could be excused from the table for a few moments, and run outside and do a Phoon in front of the Pearly Gates.

He’d do it, too! [Link]

I’ll be checking my e-mail for the digital photo from Heaven, all day.

Here’s a little video of a small portion of my Dad’s Last Birthday, complete with the music, our own traditional Happy Birthday variations, and his reading of my last card to him.

I’ll always love you Dad. You were a great man!


  1. Thanks for recording that fun (and special) time. I miss him. Thank you fro bringing those moments back to life.

  2. I can hardly breathe after seeing that little movie, David. We sure had fun growing old together. Did you notice how neat Dad’s hair was? and he had already shaved. He always combed his hair before he came to bed. I asked him why, one time. Because he always did, was the simple reply.

    I looked at all the Phoons he did. What a bunch of good memories came flooding back of places we’d been.

    He was the LOVE OF MY LIFE.

  3. Laurie Wall (Probasco)

    April 14, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    What every family should be. Loving, caring, compassionate, and really fun. I had this life through your family. Love, Laurie Wall

  4. I wish we could clone your family fun and affection! It’s needed worldwide.

  5. OK, cousin David.

    We are just about to depart for the opera and I had to read your birthday message. Now you made me cry. You have a gift, as I am sure everyone who knows and loves you tells you. Yes, you are an artist, but more than with just paint and film. With words. You know you have to write a book, if you have not already begun it. Meanwhile, keep those paintings and writings coming. You are making a WHOLE BUNCH of people happy, sad, nostalgic, and generally feeling very ALIVE out here in the world.

  6. Hello,
    I am an artist, just surfing the net and came across your site, and loved your insight, and continued reading for the last few days, and read about your father. I lost my father 6 years ago, and I love him even more than I did when he was alive, the love just keeps growing. That is a very comforting thought, love lives on and life really dosn’t end, and I believe heaven is a great reunion.
    What a fun father you must have had, what a privilege! What is a phoon? what ever it is, what a hoot! like Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously”
    Thank you for posting your insights, such a breath of freshness in a world full of bull***t!, especially the “art world.” By the way, I was an illustration major in a fine art institute, ie., an “art prostitute,” oh well… and I loved Normand Rockwell also. Do you remember when he passed away, I did. Keep the faith. Thanks.

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