This birthday appreciation post is tricky to write, because I know my dad will say, “I don’t need any special sympathy. Other people go through this, too.” But I want to tell the world how strong he is and how much I admire him for what he did for Mom.

We all helped with Mom’s illness but he was the one who had to carry the most, do the most, be the strongest for the longest time. He was at Mom’s side every minute. He handled appointments and pill schedules and injections and talked about making it to their 50th wedding anniversary. I don’t think “devotion” even begins to cover it; I can only hope I’ll be able to show (and receive) that kind of love.

Now he’s doing grocery shopping and pruning Mom’s roses and just…keeping going. The endurance required to do that in the smoking crater of his old life just staggers me.

He would always say to Mom during chemo, “You’re the strongest woman I know. You can do this.” In many ways, what he’s doing now requires even more strength. I always knew my dad was strong, but I didn’t know he was this strong.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

Not only is he enduring, he’s finding some little things to enjoy: He’s getting into programming and running model trains.