My Birthday

comments: 60

Dadandus Today is my birthday. It's also the same day that my dad died, six years ago. He was 54.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him. It is my sister Susie, my sister Julie, and me with him at Julie's wedding many years ago now. He looks really happy in this picture, I think, and sort of boyish. There is something about the way he is standing --as if we pulled him into the picture and he wasn't quite sure what to do -- that I find incomparably charming. This is the way I like to remember him, sort of pleasantly surprised with the world.

He was a complicated, charismatic person. People have told me all my life that they've never met anyone like my dad, and I have never been able to successfully describe him, or what it was like to be his daughter. It wasn't easy. When I remember him, I try to put together all the little things I thought were sweet and nice. He wanted me to open an herb store, like one we'd seen on vacation once in Galena, Illinois. He thought I should marry a farmer and have a simple life. He pronounced the words "salad" and "talent" and "balance" in a really weird way I could never imitate. We both liked those programs at the end of the year that showed all the highlights of things that had happened. He liked Martha Stewart and Cheryl Ladd. He had one speed (slow). He bought my cat Violet gourmet cat food, though he claimed to not like cats. He liked vikings. When he met Andy, who he adored, he said, "I like Andy. He's irrepressible, and he's a lot taller than that little black cloud that follows you around." He wouldn't let me go to one of the colleges he visited with me because the graffiti in the bathroom was too stupid. He loved the farmer's market in Missoula, and couldn't believe how beautiful all the peeled onions looked together. His favorite album was the Eagles' Desperado. He loved Northern Exposure and was very sad when Joel left. He always liked to stop and get a Cinnabon at the mall. He wanted me to be a writer. He made us take walks in the woods all the time. He never once complained about the clothes we wore, or said we couldn't sleep over somewhere or have someone else sleep over. He called our friends our "little friends." He liked to say "Good enough for rock 'n' roll," "Right shoulder up!" (so that I would self-correct the slight curve in my spine), and "Stay alert, stay alive." The last two of these would enrage me when I heard them. He made excellent chili. His favorite cereal was Sugar Corn Pops. He always had a boat but couldn't swim, and wore a life-jacket on shore. He was afraid to fly. He always wanted to travel to Africa but never did. He had very green eyes. He loved wolves.

I miss you Dad. I hope you're okay up there. I wish you were down here.

60 comments

tender thoughts....happy birthday

What a bittersweet day for you. Such lovely memories you have of your dad, he sounds like an amazing person. I love the quote about being taller than your black cloud!

Happy Birthday Alicia. This is a beautiful story, your Dad sounds like quite a special person.

Beautiful tribute!
I lost my Dad the day before my 40th birthday, almost three years ago.
He had terminal cancer.
I watched him die slowly, painfully, and I was with him when he finally passed.
The week before, in lucid moments,he kept asking me what day it was; was it my birthday today...he didn't want to die on my special day. He was still being my thoughtful, caring Dad right til the end.
Happy birthday and peace be with you.

You were so lucky to know your dad as well as you do. He sounds like an amazing man. Peace to you.

Happy Birthday, dear, sweet Alicia. What wonderful memories, and what a wonderful display of remembrance to your dear dad. He must be so proud...

Such a lovely picture and tribute to your dad, I'm so glad you shared this. Enjoy your day, it sounds like he wanted you to be happy - what a wonderful gift from a parent.

Alicia, your dad sounds lovely. You were very blessed to have such and active and concerned father. Hope you have a wonderful birthday.

What a beautiful tribute to your father. You certainly have become the writer he wanted you to be.
Happy Birthday.

Alicia, he sounds so wonderful. I'm very touched by your tribute to him. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing a little bit of him with us.

Happy Birthday! You brought tears to my eyes, your Dad sounds like he was a wonderful man, thanks for sharing. xx

happy birthday!

what a wonderful description.... and such heartfelt sentiments. i am sure he felt your love and hope you still feel his.....

i feel lucky that you treated us to such intimate thoughts... thank you!

Happy Birthday, dear one. Your father was a lucky man to have such beautiful and talented daughters. It's all of those wonderful little details which make us who we are, isn't it? Thank you for sharing your tender thoughts. xoxo

Best Wishes for a wonderful Birthday. So enjoyed the tribute story about your dad. Sounds like he was a very special person in your life and so "bittersweet" that he passed away on your birthday. Be blessed today.

happy birthday alicia.

it's amazing the bits of our selves we leave around and about for others to remember, the little things that end up defining us. thank you for sharing about your dad.

Happy Birthday Alicia!

Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories of your father.
I lost my dad when he was 59. Your post made me think about him today.
Hope you a have a lovely day with your sweetheart.
xoxoxoxo,
Ellen

happy birthday to you. and thanks for sharing those sweet, intimate and beautiful thoughts and images of your dear father. What a beautiful picture of a man they paint.

Oh Happy Birthday to you. I love my mother almost 14 years ago so this made me happy & sad at the same time to read.

xo

that was so nice. it sounds like you knew your dad very well. thanks for sharing that. it made me teary.

he sounds like my dad. so much so that you brought tears to my eyes. i can't imagine losing my dad and know that my words for him when he goes will be much the same as your words are for your dad. thank you.

What a touching tribute. I really liked what he said about Andy being taller then that little black cloud. Him wearing a life-jacket on shore gave me a smile :)

I hope your day was a special one, happy birthday*

happy birthday.
what a blessing that you remember so many special details about your father, and that you've written them down for others to share/remember/enjoy.

happy birthday to you. such sweet memories of your father...thank you for sharing them.

So beautiful... and ironic perhaps, as you certainly did become a writer.

Happy Birthday, and many blessings-

I see and FEEL so much LOVE in your words!! I don't know you, I don't know your dad but I can feel the specialness- and it's beautiful and obviously treasured! A lovely, lovely remembrance and Happy Birthday to YOU!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.