Happy Birthday, Daddy

As much as I love the month of May, it’s really a struggle to get through. Along with exams and other end of the school year plans, May also brings my father’s birthday and death date, ten days apart.

But I believe in celebrating life, and the precious, glorious time I had with Daddy, never mourning him. That’s why I am choosing to write about him on his birthday, not on the fifth anniversary of his death.

Daddio was the oldest of five boys, a regular Richmond hippie growing up in the sixties. He was a theater boy at Benedictine, kicked out by headmaster Father Adrian(who yes, is still alive!) and graduated from Freeman. Music was his calling since he was young boy, playing in bands like Cool Drink of Water and the Gary Gerloff Band. His signature motto was: “I like what you like”. Momma G likes to say that he was socially smart (not that he was dumb in other things!),  he knew how to hold a conversation: it was never about him, always the other person.

If there’s anything I need to take from my fourteen years with Daddy, it’s not the history stories, baseball games, or cooking lessons. Daddy constantly told me: “Most people don’t live like us, and we need to help them out”.  I wish I could even tell you how many people  came up to us saying, “I love Gary! He helped me out so much!” and neither my mom nor myself knew who that person was or what Daddy did for them, but it’s heartwarming to see that he helped someone out and they wanted to say something to us. We didn’t have a lot, but Daddy always knew there was someone else with less, and he wanted to help them. He played tons for charity, a thousand benefit shows, because he wanted to help other people. I remember him telling me about playing at the Virginia Home, a home for disabled adults. He helped his good Benedictine friend Garth with Positive Vibe Cafe ten years ago.

There’s something that no one tells you about when you lose someone close to you: You’re going to be okay. It was almost unbearable at first, but it slowly got better. I still think about my father every day, but I don’t cry every day. After the grieving process, you slowly transition into acceptance, and know that your loved one is with you every day. I can just imagine what Daddy would say if I could tell him about my life now, and it makes me smile. It’s still going to hurt a lot sometimes, there’s no denying that, but let the emotion out and free it from you.

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I think I’ll end this post with a question Daddy used to ask me all the time: Did I tell you I love you today? No? Well remind me later. I miss you, and I’m so lucky to call you my father. Thank you for being my guardian angel.

“Fare you well, fare you well. I love you more than words can tell. Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul”

-The Grateful Dead

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