Today, February 3, I am celebrating what would be your 80th birthday.
There is no cake, no ice cream, no games, no confetti, no family gathering. I’m celebrating with memories: memories of the laughter you inspired, boundaries you protected, kindness you shared.
I’m remembering your disdain for orders given. “You give orders better than I take them,” you once told someone.
I’m remembering the personal parameters that you guarded with fierceness and clarity.
I’m remembering the quirky way you looked at uncomfortable situations, reducing them to bearable encounters with a twist of humor.
I’m remembering your love for Trap, your black lab that showed the same gentle firmness that he learned from you.
I’m remembering your quickness in recognizing injustices.
Memories about you come easily. All I have to do is talk with your children and I am reminded of your sense of humor. Your wit is embedded deep into them.
I watch Chili bring me my house shoes, and I’m reminded how you taught her to drag your boots down the hallway and return with slippers as you waited for a new lung.
Oh yes, Jackson, you would want us to ignore your birthday. But those of us who love you can not ignore the impact you had on our lives.
Thank you for agreeing to share yourself with us. And Happy Birthday, you old cowboy.