Monday, April 12, 2010


Hey there-

Sometimes things work out better than you hoped.

I love that!

We celebrate Bob's birthday every year with pizza (a dish he was famous for making, with yeast and everything), a favorite dessert of his (varies from year to year), Sprecher soda (a local favorite) and balloons that we let off into the universe.

I am a person who believes in ritual and I feel it is important to continue to celebrate the day Bob was born. Even though Bob is no longer here to celebrate his birthday with us it is certainly still a day worth celebrating.

The first pizza and balloon party Henry and Arthur were just one and four and I had to drag the KitchenAid from the way back of the shelf, dust it off, and weed through all of Bob's cook books to find the correct crust recipe. Each year the boys have enjoyed the balloon tradition but it has grown in meaning. The first year Arthur just wanted to suck on the balloon and this year he picked out his own rainbow design. Last year I succumbed to store bought crust after three years of struggling to perfect Bob's crust. This year we had dough from a specialty shop that we still got to roll out and toss up in the air.

So things are evolving, but the heart of the event remains the same.

This year I was awoken on the day of the party to the tears of Arthur and a piece of paper being thrust in my face. He and Henry were writing notes to their daddy to attach to the balloons and Henry had told him his was "dumb". Arthur's note, written all by himself, said;

I lov you. Do you lov me. Lov, Arthur

Henry thought it was dumb because "obviously Daddy loves him", and there is an "e" on the end of love.

I thought it was the most precious thing I had ever read in my life.

Henry's note was much more Henry like; Are you happy in Heaven? I am doing good here. It has been hard and sad without you. Could you send me a note please? I hope you have the best birthday ever. Signed, Henry

Once I recovered from the emotions the letters brought up (it was way too early and I hadn't had my chai yet) we all went downstairs to make the cherry bars we were bringing for dessert. Once those were out of the oven we were off to pick out the balloons and then head to the aunts where we started making the pizzas. We all laughed when Henry threw that crust in the air as if he were in some kind of disc throwing competition, flour flying all over the kitchen and coming to rest on his eyelashes.

After the pizza was devoured we sent the balloons off with a "happy birthday, Bob" toast. Arthur's balloon with his note tied to it went sailing over the trees and into the universe. Henry's got stuck in the tree in the front yard and we all watched while the balloon valiantly attempted to free itself and sail off. Mike eventually got some long stick thing from the basement and hung over the porch railing trying to free that darn thing.

He was only successful in scaring us all, especially Henry who decided he didn't want to be sending balloons off for Mike on his next birthday. Stuck balloon or not it was a wonderful party all the same.

Last night I was thinking about what a great afternoon we had. I was so proud of the boys for writing those notes all on their own (although Henry could have been a bit nicer and they could have waited a little longer to show them to me)and remembering Henry tossing the crust in the air made me smile. The birthday ritual has turned out better than I had hoped when I started it five years ago.

Each year the boys understand a little more about the significance of the event and the note writing gives me a little window into how they are feeling about their dads absence. What do they believe? How are they feeling? Does Henry really think his dad can write him a note? Does Arthur truly doubt his dad loved him?

The answer to that last question is so obvious to me. It was so obvious when I saw Bob holding Arthur and bouncing with him on the big exercise ball to try to get him to sleep when he was first born. I saw how hard Bob tried to stay alive so he could be there for both the boys as they grew up. I remember Bob smiling at Arthur and holding his little thumbs and saying softly to him; "I love you little guy."

But Arthur doesn't remember those things. Henry has some memories of things he did with his daddy; going down the "roller slide" at the park, going on bike rides to the lake, talking about what his dreams might be as he went to sleep, making pizza with him. Henry has concrete proof his dad loved him, but Arthur doesn't.

So the birthday ritual is turning out even better than I hoped. It gives me and the boys and Bob's family an opportunity to celebrate the fact that Bob was born. And we get to celebrate with many of Bob's favorite things that he enjoyed here on earth.

Two of those things, the most important things, being his boys. I will be sure to remind Arthur of that more often this year.

Thanks for checking in-



  1. i just read your column above. i like your style. there are plenty of folks who do not take notice of the very small, sometimes seemingly insignificant, details of life. they are the seasoning to the big plodding blocks of everyday life. you have your radar tuned-in to the right things. you just gained one more reader. . .

  2. What a beautiful tradition the three of you have developed! Those notes are so precious. Thank you for sharing this touching story.

  3. Thank you Irene for writing this blog. You convey an awful lot of hope, wisdom and joy. So many of the things you say seem to apply to wider areas of life than your starting theme. I am taking a lot away from this as a separated woman in a foreign country dealing with my own losses. Again, thank you!