For My Oldest, On Her Birthday

And the one regret--my failure--as a father

“It’s odd the things that people remember. Parents will arrange a birthday party; certain it will stick in your mind forever. You’ll have a nice time, then two years later you’ll be like, ‘There was a pony there? Really? And a clown with one leg?’” –David Sedaris

Karen, I remember your birthdays, parties large and small… elaborate and themed or just pure—simple—family time around the cake. I could talk about how time has flown; about how it moves too damn fast. People reflect on that, and it’s often tinged with regret. But I won’t… and don’t have any regrets. Well, maybe one where I failed as your father, and I’ll get to that shortly.

But birthdays aren’t about parties or cake; the important thing isn’t the gifts we receive (or give to others). It’s about the love we share, the appreciation of life and—when it’s your own children—how the birth of a child changes a man and woman’s—the new father and mother’s— lives. And how, once they become adults their child’s life takes a course, even tangentially, of its own. We see what they go through, adult life ‘ain’t’ easy. So, we help when and where it’s needed (and appropriate) and commiserate, maybe smile a bit—to ourselves—at the innocuous frustrations they go through and lament about.

We (their parents) have ‘been there, done that.’ Adult life ain’t easy.

In my life, two things made me a better man: meeting and marrying your mother and you (each of your sisters added to this). Your birth set the cornerstone of a family foundation. Cassidy, Amelia, and Bonnie became the other three corners, and your mom is the pillar, square in the center of it all. A family in the very best and finest sense.

I can’t imagine life without you as my first child. I knew you were special the day you were born, and that hasn’t changed. I still feel that way.karen-lowery

So, about all those birthdays, the 28 that have come before, and my failure. How I let you down. I never, ever—didn’t even think of it—hired a one-legged clown to perform at one of your birthday parties. I’m sorry about that. 🙂


P.S. I’m very proud of the woman you’ve become. Happy Birthday with all my love.


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