Happy Birthday Dad.

As far back as I can remember my dad has always been an animal lover, we always had animals in our home growing up. Through the years he  and mom would feed the hungry ones, bring wounded animals home and they would get fixed up at the vet and become part of our family. My parents both taught me compassion and respect for all living things. My dad could not bear to see anything suffer, he once tried to revive my guinea pig “Bufford” with mouth to mouth when Bufford had an accident… ( he used a little piece of cut off straw to try to save the lil guy) My Dad was a gentle giant, a kind soul and I miss him every single day. Today is my Dad’s birthday, he would have been 96 years old.

Every year on his birthday I visit his grave, I stare at the name on the bronze grave marker  “John L. Hiltenbeitel” sometimes I trace the letters and sometimes I can’t even bear to look at it. I always bring flowers (out of my backyard if  an early frost has not hit) and a cup of white castle coffee (his favorite)  I drink half and in a yearly ritual  share the other half  by pouring it into the earth at the spot that gives me a place to stand and deliver my grief, my love, and my dreams that I did not get to share with him. A place to let go and a place to remember. This year I will do something else as well…I could not think of a better way to honor my dad and his memory than to choose this day to officially adopt Tristan.  My dad’s spirit lives on in Tristan and all animals whose lives touch mine.

Happy Birthday Dad…. and welcome to your forever home to my sweet boy Tristan Louis Hiltenbeitel.




  1. Lori, you know I’m crying as I write this.

    I wish I had had a chance to meet your dad. What a wonderful person he was.

    You are lucky to have had him in your life for the years he was with you. But I know the pain of missing him will never go away.

    Happy Birthday, John L. Hildenbeitel. And Happy Adoption Day, Tristan!

    • dogl2324 says:


      My dad would have adored you. Your kindness, your patience and the love you give to all that are lucky enough to receive it. We are very connected through our experiences with our fathers and I know you understand the pain I write about. Thank you for being so good to me and the memory of my Dad.
      Love you-

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