Happy Birthday Dad

It’s hard to believe that it’ll be 20 years in May that you became a missing person. Thirteen since your memorial. Your granddaughter that you almost met will be 20 in August. You would’ve been 83 today. I remember you talking about Mom’s house where she lived while you both dated. A house on Cypress. I just saw it on ancestry.com. I remember that you owned property. A duplex and another rental. One was on Barthé and the other was on Del Mar. I remember Barthé was originally Beechwood. You seemed to be the one who was always maintaining the properties. I remember being with you as you were painting and cleaning. You were so busy. You worked all week at the bank and sometimes on Saturdays. The price you paid for being Assistant Vice President and Manager of Foothill Independent Bank in Claremont. Between working, taking care of your properties, playing tennis with your friends, you still made time to go hiking and biking with me. There were even times you came to my piano recitals. Mom told me how you were so proud, you had tears running down your face.

You were so busy and under so much pressure, Mom found you in your car at one of your properties one day. She said you were incoherent mumbling about making an appointment. She was concerned when you hadn’t come home. She went looking for you because something told her where you would be. It’s good that she found you when she did. It turns out you had a stroke. You were only in your forties! Your speech and memory were affected. Your whole left side was paralyzed. You had to relearn how to talk, how to walk and you did! But your memory didn’t fully recover and that meant you couldn’t go back to working at the bank.

Life changed drastically for you after that. You would talk about how grateful you were for Mom taking over the finances and everything. You said you understood as she made the decision to sell the properties. There was no way she would have the energy and time to take care of them the way that you did. After all, she worked full time as a teacher and took care of me and you. I watched you as these shifts and switches were made all around you. There was a deep sadness that couldn’t be hidden behind your eyes. Even though your words were saying different, there was unmistakeable grief and loss in your eyes. My seemingly invincible father was now so humbled. So… human.

But there would still be joy. We would still go on trips. They were now closer to home. I remember the trip to Santa Barbara. That would be our first trip with your grandson. You were overjoyed seeing your grandson. You didn’t think you would even have any grandchildren. You loved him so much. You and Mom did. His middle name is your middle name. Paying honor to you.

And now, life is coming full circle. I met someone who invests in property too. It turns out that he may have met you right before you went missing. You were always making improvements on the house and putting it up for sale to get appraisals and all. It turns out he may have looked at our house when you were in business with Julian.

Small world. Well, your grandson is an adult and living in Northern California. You would be proud of him. Your granddaughter is away at college in Northern California. You would be proud of her. I hope I’m making you proud, Dad.

I love and miss you. Hug Mom and Aunt Vertenis for me.

#missingperson #happybirthdayinheaven #banker #donhawkins

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