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  • Kristen Kehoe

Forty-Seven in '21

Here it is, Old Man River, another 365 around the sun, and what a trip it has been. 2020 was our year of numbers, when everything hinged on a metric or a date or a countdown until we might insert possibility A, B, or C, and though it's been looking up, 2021 has kept us on our toes as well (or the softball field...diamond? Ha, whatever it is, we're there A LOT).

But before all of this freedom, before 2021 opened some doors, both inside and out, when people were struggling under the weight of heavy responsibilities and no real end in sight, you held Liv and me up. More than that, you made me forget that life hasn't always been like this, because you made it easy. Jaja, you've spent this year holding us up: teaching Liv that the one thing she can always control is her own life, her own choices, and her own work ethic. While I've been in a classroom, literally connected to a computer, you've done the majority of balancing her education with your workday, carving out time in your schedule to make sure your breaks lined up with hers, that when she had ten minutes, you had ten minutes to throw the ball, or run the hallways, or make paper airplanes. You've spent this year walking her up and down hallways, reviewing math quizzes, answering questions and listening to jokes, replacing all of those missed interactions with something different, maybe even something as important.

A few months ago, some show we were watching used the word unconditional. A woman said, "My love for her is unconditional," and at the time when you paused it, Liv and I both groaned, but then you looked at her, and I've never been more touched. "Love is never unconditional, Liv, not in romance. There are conditions you have to set for how people treat you, how they act in order to be loved by you..." Another lesson. Another moment when I would have just gone on that you took the time to talk to her and remind her that behaviors matter in her life, and she never had to settle or accept something that wasn't right. Oy, this was a beautiful moment...even if I laughed at the time when she gave you a thumbs up and motioned to start the show again:)

So, on your 47th year, on the 21st year of this 21st century, I hope you know how amazed I am by you, and how loved you are by me and Liv. Being with you every day, even when you're correcting my softball-isms (I still maintain "get ya some" is appropriate when she hits the ball) or showing me once again how to load the dishwasher for maximum effect, I'm grateful, and awed, and totally in love. Thank you--not just for holding our family up, but loving all of our family, and balancing my daily-crazy with a whole lotta cool. I hope this birthday brings you everything you want. And I hope you know that my love for you is unconditional ;)

Happy birthday, Old Man River. Make 47 a good one.


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