The first time I had something emotionally difficult happen to me was prior to the time memories stayed in my mind. It was really more of just something I was told had happened as opposed to something I remember. My parents were divorced when I was young, but that’s not the part that has stayed with me all this time; it’s that my Dad chose my 1st birthday (after my party) to actually move out. Recalling the number of times that the thought has passed through my mind of there being 365 days in a year and he picked that one to leave is far too many to recall. But what made this situation even better was that I first learned of his “leaving date” in a newspaper article in the Democrat and Chronicle about my 90 year old Great Grandmother’s birthday party. I think I was about 7 or 8 when I read the article, I mean I was so excited to see myself pictured in the newspaper so of course I read the corresponding article. I’m sure the writer didn’t mean any harm but the way they asked my dad in an interview, “why he left” his answer hit a cord deep in my heart that will never fully fade away. (I mean it’s in print so how can it ever leave me completely?)
His first reaction was to call me and try to explain that the reporter had taken his words out of context. It made sense to me that he “couldn’t wait to move out of Rochester.” What was there that could possibly make him want to stay, right? I know that my Dad traveled home many weekends to “spend time” with me; but I also recall that the more birthdays or special events that he just happened to be “really busy at work and couldn’t make” began to overshadow the good visits in my memories.
The most positive message that I can take away from this emotional scar is that for me, EVERYDAY is important and special. And for my children, I vowed to never let work keep me away from any of their birthdays or special events. To this day, I have been at every dance show, music recital, karate demonstration, birthday party, cheerleading event and all the other small seemingly insignificant yet somehow powerfully important days in between. I can’t remember if it was my daughter’s 2nd or 3rd birthday that I was scheduled to be at a meeting in St. Louis for work. I do remember telling my boss that I would be there and give 150% at the meeting in the days prior to her birthday, but on her birthday I would move hell and high water to make sure I was with her.
So one might say that in a very round about way, the gift I received on my first birthday wasn't actually an emotional scar but an awakening. The true importance that special days can play as a significant role in our lives and those we care most about around us.