Why don’t you come on over, Valerie?

Well, sometimes I go out by myself and I …think about my daddy. It’s funny the things you remember: the highlights of your memory, and the flashbacks that are triggered by certain chord progressions, especially those that are continuously played all over Maceió. Amy Winehouse fills the sound waves here, and hearing “Valerie” takes me to our last jam session in Madrid.

I recently did this journal prompt: what I learned from my parents. And I thought of my daddy (and you, momma, of course!). All his sayings, his catch phrases of sorts, came rushing into my head.

You gotta believe in something
He parked the car at Allentown Presbyterian Church before another rockin’ Sunday service, rubbed his hand over the scar on his leg, and said “I don’t know what I did to get such a shitty hand dealt to me in life, but I do know this: you gotta believe in something.”

Clear your bed
…because you never know when you’re gonna wanna pass out—great advice (seriously though).

Nobody likes a Mr. Messy
Clean up after yourself. Dishes, clothes, anything. Common sense, right?

Show up & be there
Presents don’t matter, but your presence does. Holidays are meant to bring us all together sans the consumerist tendencies of America, and he’s the one who convinced me to head home from Spain for (our last) Christmas together.

That’s Justin! 
Just Incredible. Just in time. Just in case. He’d say ‘just’ is my mom’s favorite word because she preferred it to ‘please,’ and, as he said, it certainly does not mean the same thing. But he most certainly loved to use ‘just’ to emphasize the efficiency and practicality of things.

Be a social drinker
Unforgettable nights with friends and family shouldn’t be the ones you actually can’t remember. Guitars, good people, and just a few drinks.

Buy only what you need
And you don’t need much (especially when you go to the beach). This has become way more relevant navigating adult life abroad—groceries, clothes, and the things I think I need.

Use a small spoon for ice cream
More spoonfuls=more happiness. Trick your mind into thinking there’s more Rocky Road in that bowl.

It’ll all work out
Don’t freak out. Just breathe. It will be okay. Even when you think things are so completely screwed up, know that they will work out.

Pajamas, peepee, teeth, bed
Another super useful tip that has become second nature. My nightly routine remains unchanged.

And so does my undying love for my human, my best friend, and my daddy. Today, I celebrate you and your extraordinary life. It may have been too damn short, but it sure as hell was filled with great laughs, good music, melted ice cream, and sincere, genuine care and love for others. Happy Birthday, Doodle. I love you.

Keri Berry

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