Things I might say to my father, who died 3 days before the birthday I'm about to celebrate

My father died three days before his 58th birthday from leukemia. It is an odd feeling to approach the birthday he never saw, to become older than he ever was. In the words of the columnist, Ellen Goodman, who wrote memorably about this difficult passage, "What my father did at my age - to put it as bluntly as I experienced it - was die."
  1. Dad, a lot has happened in the 24 years you've been gone. I moved to Washington DC, got married, had two beautiful children, became an election lawyer. I wish you had been here for all this. But it makes me saddest that you never saw me be a father.
  2. A lot has happened in the world, too. Our first black president. 9-11. Our president had sex with an intern. iPhones. I wonder sometimes which you would find hardest to believe.
  3. When Michael Bloomberg was thinking of running for president and Bernie was rising in the polls, I imagined saying this to you: "So in 2016, the presidential race was between two Jews and Donald Trump."
  4. I'm going bald - unlike you, who had a full head of thick hair, even (strangely) after chemotherapy. When my daughter was 5, she asked me if I was going to lose the rest of my hair. I told her I wasn't sure. "Try not to," she replied.
  5. The Orioles haven't been to the World Series. But at least they aren't dreadful any more. Jim Palmer does color commentary on TV broadcasts and his hair hasn't even started to turn gray. (Yeah, I know.)
  6. My daughter is a redhead. Extroverted and super smart, with a singing voice like an angel. She starred in her school play. My son is clever and funny, draws cartoons and skateboards, and has a huge heart. They both love politics, musical theater, and the Baltimore Orioles. Go figure.
  7. I once tried leaving myself a voice mail message at work to remind myself of something I had to do in the morning. When I listened to the message the next day, my heart froze. We sound exactly alike on the phone. I haven't done that since.
  8. I still have conversations with you in my head. Usually when I'm driving, on the way to work in the morning.
  9. I promised I would look after Mom, and I have. We talk at least once a week. She just retired, at 80, from a full-time job as a bookkeeper and office manager for a law firm.
  10. You were a great example in so many ways and still are.
  11. But I'll have to figure out old age on my own
  12. I still miss you.