Today would have been your 58th birthday. It's hard to believe you've been gone for over a year now. Part of me feels like it was just yesterday; though another part of me, an almost equal part of me, feels like you've always been gone. That part of me hurts more.
I've had an eventful few months. In February, I was nominated and awarded 'Coach of the Month' at my job. It was the first time the award involved a nomination process that came directly from our associates, so I take a little extra pride in that. I just go to work every day and do what I feel would make you proud. I work hard, complain little, and try to leave the place better than it was when I arrived. I am honorable and perform with integrity. I try not to emulate you too much, though, and keep a better work/life balance. You taught me lessons even in your imperfections. Thanks for that. I know you meant well.
I met a really great girl in March! Her name is Cindy. We hit it off immediately and have been having a wonderful time together. She has a big heart and a keen mind; she makes me laugh often and challenges me to be a better person. I think you two would've gotten along and enjoyed giving each other a hard time. She takes good care of me and we love each other very much. You'd love her dogs; they're a lot of fun and mostly obedient. I took care of one for a few weeks and we bonded pretty well. I know your only question about Cindy would be, "Does she make you happy?" My answer is emphatically yes.
Mom and Tyler are doing well. I'm trying to spend more time with them; it feels like life just keeps getting in the way. Talked to Grandma Mary yesterday, too; I don't know when the last time was we had a conversation. Family is important, and I'm all too aware that I don't have much in the way of immediate family. I haven't talked to anyone in Pawhuska in a while. I should make a trip soon. It's hard because every time I want to see you and I can't. I can't see Grandma or Grandpa, either. But I think of you all every time I get on Highway 11.
I'm taking good care of the Mustang. Got it fully serviced the other day; even had the transmission fluid changed out! You'd be proud; I changed a flat tire the other night all by myself. I hadn't had the gumption to do that since the Explorer fell off the jack and crushed my hand. I wanted to call you and celebrate. Hell, I want to call you all the time. I knew what you'd say, but that doesn't change the fact I'd still like to hear it.
I'm 31 now, Dad. Hard to believe I started out so small and fragile. I celebrated with friends and family last month and knew how lucky I was to be surrounded by so many people that cared about me. There lies the true wealth of a man.
Anyway, that's about the size of it. If you were here, I'd take you out wherever you wanted to eat. Even though it's your birthday, you'd want me to pick where I wanted to eat. All you cared about was the company. We had some good laughs together and I think of those more often than the vacuum of your absence. Still, anniversaries are hard. Some days hit me out of nowhere. I suppose that's to be expected.
Love you, Dad. I miss you.