November 7, 2017
Happy Birthday Dad,
I’m thinking of you and missing you more than usual today.
It’s so strange. You’ve been gone longer than I knew you.
But you’ve never left me, and the picture of me I placed in your breast pocket
the day they lowered you to your eternal rest will be with you for always and forever.
We’ll be together always.
I went to the old home place a few years ago and the trees you planted are majestic, tall and towering over the entire yard. I took some acorns home with me to keep the family line going.
When Edwin was the last, so many of the cousins gathered for his 96th birthday party.
He was still sharp as a tack, telling stories of how they dared you to lick the pump handle in winter and your tongue stuck.
He remembers how much trouble the brothers got into when they lowered you into the well in a bucket.
But it was well worth it he said.
He told us how gracious and wonderful my grandmother, your Mother was.
Oh, she loved to talk on the phone when it was new and how she loved to take her children on picnics.
Did you know she was your protector from the wrath of your father? She gave you her limitless love and was your protector for seven years, until she was called home. But then you had Aunt Freida, who loved you in her place.
Uncle Edwin said you were the fearless and curious one. The exchange for not reporting your infractions to your Father was that you did their chores. Edwin laughed at that and said you were pretty busy.
There are several things I have wanted to say to you.
I’m sorry I lied about so many things. In retrospect they had little bearing on who I am today but what you believed about me was important, now more than ever.
I’m sorry I lit my bed spread on fire when I was old enough to know better.
It was the only time in my memory you disciplined me to the extreme.
I should have thanked you. I believe, looking back, you were the catalyst for my heartfelt belief that life was hard enough without having harshness instead of love in the home. Your grandchildren said I was too soft. In spite of me they became wonderful people and I am rich beyond measure with my blessings.
And finally, although there are so many things to tell.
Yes, I was the one who repeatedly stole the “For Sale”sign in front of the house,
but I could not imagine never returning to the only home I’d ever known.
And now that it’s mostly here and done, this life,
Thank you for taking me out to see the corn fields on Sundays.
Thank you for the gift of music.
I still see you directing Mitch Miller and the Gang from your chair when you mostly couldn’t walk anymore.
Thank you for the gift of family, a generous proud family that would band together to provide for a brother when he could no longer care for himself or his family.
Thank you for instilling in me Hunzeker family values that are the part of my soul that grounds me and informs every conscious decision.
You were a hard act to follow.
But you taught me through tradition and example, showed me the stuff of which families are made.
I spent most of my adult life in San Francisco.
It treated me well and I prospered.
This is where I raised my children, mostly alone but within a circle of friends. Without them I would not have been successful.
I wish you had known your grand children, my children.
Emily is a bright light, a wonderful mother.
She brightens the world on a daily basis and wears her beliefs on her sleeve.
Casey, he’s the one most like me. He’s an awesome musician with a tender heart. He is a chef extraordinaire.
He carries a picture of you in your bomber jacket.
And Grace. She’s taken the world by storm.
Every day of her life, there is nothing she can’t accomplish.
You have 4 great-grandchildren now. They are growing in knowledge and spirit. I moved to Virginia to be a part of their lives, as you did for your Tiffy and Chris.
All of these children make my life complete.
You would be so proud.
101 today. I can’t imagine you as an old man.
I wish you had been granted that privilege but you were called as a young man.
There is so much more I want to tell you but life calls.
Tell Mom hi and I miss her sorely. She’s been gone nearly 19 years now and I have never grown accustomed to being an orphan.
I try to spend more time with Mike and Jo now. I love the pleasure of their company.
Know that I miss you and I am lonely for you.
Before we know it, in the blink of an eye, I will be sitting beside you and we’ll have a real chat. Make up for lost time, you know.
Like I always say, spread your wings and soar proudly.
See you soon.
Your Kathleen Ann