Today is my father’s birthday. The last time I celebrated it, he turned 45. I remember us going to a restaurant in Newport Beach’s marina, I don’t remember much more except that he was happy we were out. That was 18 years ago. If I would have known that he was sick and it would be our last dinner together I would have devoured every last detail.
Unfortunately, it’s the month after that day that is ingrained in my memory: Days in ICU units, discussions of cruises that would never become reality and a decision that I hope my son will never have to make. My dad’s optimism during that time stands out the most for me. That is the person that I honor today and is the man that I choose to treasure.
I remember hiking in the canyons of Palm Springs, watching lightening storms over Tucson and having bonfires on the beaches of Orange County. I appreciate his 20-foot Christmas tree decorated with white lights and white doves, white roses on my birthday, and lobster for Easter (when he really wanted rack of lamb). Then there are the things that will always make me think of him: Cuba Libres, cooking shows, 501s, Oldsmobiles, ridiculously large portions of prime rib and the smell of Aramis.
So, on this day, I toast my dad—the man who helped mold the person I am today.