A Birthday Wish

At almost 95 years old, what does one conjure up as a birthday wish? This, I remember thinking three years ago today, as I watched Gunter blow out his birthday cake candles on what was his 94th birthday.

I couldn’t imagine but, as for my own wishes, they’d be granted.

Gunter’s health would hold and, as detailed in ‘Countdowns with Gunter’, my old friend would begin his final journey. The final one that would see him getting to know Kaia.

For nine months, week in and week out, I’d bring her. And for nine months he marvelled at the babbling, then crawling sight before him while I sat back doing the same.

Over the course of his life, Gunter had fought so hard and he’d managed to preserver in the face of tragedy that would’ve ruined lesser men. Whenever I’d asked how he’d done so, his usual reply was, “Feeling sorry for one’s self never brought anyone back from the dead,” though his daughter Karen would add her mother had played a big roll stating flatly and firmly, “Gunter, you have to live for the living.”

And for close to 95 remarkable years, he did just that. Long enough for the man to often wonder out loud to me what was his reason for lingering so long with everyone else long since departed?

One time near the end, I finally worked up the courage to tell him I thought I had the answer to that question. Whether he knew it or not, I told him, he simply had a few more lessons to teach. I was just 92 years late getting to class.

And, of course, he had to meet Kaia.

Being so young, Kaia, of course, has little to no recollection of her time in the presence of daddy’s old friend. But, at a little more than two and a half years old now, the girl recognizes photos of herself and, like many children tend to do, she is somewhat intrigued with images of her much younger, ‘Baby Kaia’ self.

So today, on what would’ve been Gunter’s 97th birthday, father and daughter will celebrate. Though Kaia will be disappointed to learn there will be no cake, there will be plenty of pictures to show. Sitting http://journeyswithkaia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Kaia-Frame.jpgon the couch or laying on the bed together, there will be plenty of pictures and, eventually, a question or two as to ‘Daddy, who is that with Baby Kaia?’

Today, of all days, that is my birthday wish for Gunter and I look forward to the opportunity to answer that question. As for where to begin, I’d probably be wise to keep it simple.

“That is an old friend of daddy’s, someone he misses very much. And someone that would’ve loved to have seen the little girl you’ve become.”

That will be as good a place to start as any.




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