It’s my Dad’s birthday today, the first since he passed away. We had a big birthday party for him in 2006, my sister S made t-shirts for it that we all wore. We planned the party after we first discovered that our Dad’s cancer was advanced and incurable. He survived for three more years.

Dad's birthday 2006

Mom, Dad and Us Kids

I was trying to think of something to do to honor this day. My sister T suggested that I write our Dad a poem, the way he did for me on some of my birthdays. 

I haven’t written a poem for 25 years and never have I written the kind of poems my Dad wrote. But here’s my attempt at a cowgirl poem.


Birthday Poem for My Dad

Start with a shedder, long strokes of the hand.

Hair flying everywhere, covering the sand.

Move into a rhythm, several strokes then a flick.

I got lost in my task, it gives me a kick.

After a shedder, a large brush, and one that’s fine,

I say, “Good enough!” I’ve spent enough time.

On goes a pad and then a saddle.

Luke blows up like a wood tick. I’d like to give him a paddle.

Now comes the bridle, Luke lowers his head.

It goes on easily. “Thank you.” I said.

I have a great ride, as I think of my Dad.

I wish he were here. That he’s not,  makes me sad.

He never did see me ride my Murphy or Luke.

Didn’t think much of gaited, would have found Murphy a kook. 

I think if he’d seen me ride them, he’d have been proud.

I hope a good rider in his eyes I would have been found.

So Happy Birthday Dad! This is my first cowgirl poem.

I hope that in heaven, you’ve found a good home.

Luke's shadow

My birthday was on Tuesday the 24th. I suppose birthdays are supposed to be a happy time but I felt kind of down. 

One of the things I’ve looked forward to on my birthdays since I found my birth family has been waiting to see what kind of card my Dad would come up with. Not to belittle the other cards I receive from people, because they are wonderful too, but my Dad wrote a kind of cowboy poetry that I always looked forward to receiving.

One of the cards he sent me said,

Happiest Birthday!
Dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
Work like your reputation in in judgment,
Live like you know there’s a hell.
Ride like there’ nobody watching,
And like you’re really expecting to win.
Don’t hold a grudge or try to get even,
I’ve done it and tried it too often,
And now I’ve learned to move on, I’m believing.
Care for the ones who don’t care
You’re better than that, and we all need a break.
Keep your word, don’t break a promise,
Your reputation, for sure, is at stake.
Rise in the morning, like the sun shining brightly.
The world won’t stop nor slow down just for you
There’s life to be lived.
Love, your other Dad

Granted, not all the lines may be original but the way he put them together and added his own words made these cards very special to me and to my brothers and sisters who received their own special birthday cards.

My Dad died last Thanksgiving from cancer. (You can read more about that in Horse Love and Genetics.) So there will be no more special birthday cards from him. Maybe just a new ritual of pulling out the old cards and rereading them. And remembering what a special place he holds in my heart.

I miss you Dad. 

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