We would have baked you a cake, maybe served you a beer, lit a candle, and watched you blow out the flame while your raspy throat made crackly sounds-- (that's what the cigarettes did to you).
You would have opened your gifts that you probably didn't need, but you would have smiled in gratutude anyway. You would've joked about the wrapping or the card or something else because you like to joke-- (mostly I think you just like to laugh).
Maybe then we would have played a card game all together, as a family-- poker, perhaps. (Or maybe we wouldn't have because we know how seriously you take those card games.)
As the night lingered on, we would have poured black coffee in our cups and sat around the living room talking about the days when I was "Shrimp" and you liked to pick on me because you knew I could take it and dish it back. (I was so little then, but our quick wits were good together, weren't they?)
I bet you would've had good stories to tell at grandparents day at school.
I bet you would have been the loudest one cheering at my highschool graduation.
I bet you would have read all my stories-- and even liked them too.
I bet we would have be tight, me and you.
I bet we would have been really good friends.
Right now I'm thankful that you're celebrating your birthday with Jesus, without a raspy throat or any of the other illnesses that ultimately took you home.
I'm also thankful that one day I'll get to bake you that cake, watch you open those gifts, and talk with you into the wee hours of the night-- that will be many moons from now, but I still look forward to it.
Mostly I want to say that I'm sorry we didn't get more time, because I think we would have had quite a bit of fun-- me and you.
Happy birthday, paw paw leroy.
I love you as big as the sky,