posthumous advice from my dad, on his birthday


Dead Dads Club

Today would’ve been my dad’s 83rd birthday. As I always do on this day, and this time of year in general, I have been spending time thinking of all our good memories and reflecting on all the many life lessons he taught me.

Last night I got out the scrapbook that was given to me by my brother-in-law the week after my dad died with the photos of his funeral. I have since turned it into a scrapbook of greeting cards he sent me through the years, newspaper clippings of the times he made the paper, random photos and other memorabilia (including the speech he gave to introduce Henry Kissinger at an event in San Diego in 1981—fodder for another blog post, indeed).

It’s my “Dad Book” and I go to it when I need a pick me up and/or a good cry.

I’ve written many times about the greeting cards he used to send me, as they are truly such incredible keepsakes now that he is no longer here, no longer able to give me a pep talk or provide me with advice.

Lately, I’ve been wondering what advice he’d be giving me right now during my separation. He saw a lot of life in his 69 years and he always had a wise word for his family, friends and colleagues who needed guidance.

In flipping through the scrapbook last night, I found a card with the exact sentiment I think he’d want to say to me right now.

It’s an image of a sun with a quote from Helen Keller:

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.”

In a time like this I am certain that he would not try to tell me what to do or how to do it, he would simply tell me to keep my chin up, believe in myself and the rest will follow. And most likely, he would send me a Hallmark card with an inspirational message that would make more of an impact than he would ever know.

Without knowing it, the advice from Helen, and my dad, is what I’ve been telling myself for the past few months. Through the dark times I have been looking for and finding light–literal sunlight, figurative vibe light, any type of light–and it has been my saving grace.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.”

Inside that card from my dad was a note about one of my upcoming performances (I was heavily involved in local theatre and independent film at that time).

His note said:

inspirational letters from dad

Humor, sincerity, wisdom, inspiration and love all in a matter of six sentences. He sure knew how to use the right words at the right time, to build me up and to keep me putting one foot in front of the other (without making me look like a fool or an ass).

I miss him dearly, but I definitely feel him with me, particularly when I read these messages of yore.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Helen Keller inspirational quotes




  1. 1
    T. says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. Burt!
    Love to you Mary,

  2. 2
    Kylene says:

    Wonderfully written as always Mary! I am sure your Dad is so proud of you and the way you are handling life’s challenges.

  3. 3
    Kat says:

    What a treasure!

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