On Saturday, we had dad's memorial service.

On Wednesday, we celebrated the day I was born.

On Wednesday, I received my first birthday card signed 'I love you, Mama."

That's the first card I have received in my thirty-eight years of life that excluded my father. It made my gut hurt and made my throat immediately burn. The note from my mom said 'I'm making you a quilt out of all your daddy's flannel shirts.' I can think of nothing in this world I want more.

Let's go back to Wednesday, when I checked the mail on my birthday and there was a happy card in the mail from my mom. Three days previous we had said good-bye to my dad. And yes, he was my nearly perfect dad but before that he was my moms best friend, love, and partner for 52 years. For 52 years, they were inseparable even until the very end. Literally. And if any year there was a year she got a pass in mailing me a card to receive on my actual birthday, this was the year.

My mom is amazing. She has always been but still, she continues to blow me away. She got up Sunday, went to church alone and then has continued to be upbeat and positive. She's alone now in a house that my dad built so long ago.

When dad started getting "bad" meaning his legs starting to fail him more and his mind worse and worse she remained by his side. As a man that stood over 6 foot tall who was all legs, it's hard. He should have been in a wheelchair long ago, but he walked until the very end because of my mom. She got him out and about, even though getting him to, and then into the car was a days work, she still took him places. His mind stayed sharp as long as it did because of my mom. His body stayed healthy as long as it did because of my mom. He was clean and well taken care of because...of my mom.

Often during the course of the last few weeks, I'm asked "how's your mom?" And the person asking looks as though they are prepared for a story of sadness but 9 times out of 10 I have found myself saying. "You know, my dad gave her a gift. A gift of life. Because of his passing, she is going to be able to live again."

Sure, we're going to miss him like crazy. Fathers Day, Christmas, and all the holidays that your dad should be there will take a different tone this year. But his legacy will forever live on.

Through me, through my children, through my brother, my nephews, all who knew him and loved him.

Mom though. She's amazing. She's tough. She's...the strongest woman I know.

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