I was waiting for it as I sat at the breakfast table, fiddling with the corner of my paper napkin and anticipating my tenth birthday in two weeks. Across from me sat my brother going on and on about some trick with his yoyo while my sister tipped her orange juice glass in circles around her placemat; another brother, in his highchair gummed his fingers. From the radio in the kitchen, Les Brown and his orchestra played Sentimental Journey as Mother finished scrambling mounds of eggs. I fidgeted on my straight back chair, waiting, until his footfalls in the hall lifted my mood.

“Happy first of November, everyone!” said Dad as he stepped into the breakfast room, his clean-shaven face alive with freshness. Again, he remembered. Again, eyes quickened, smiles brightened, the humdrum sidetracked: for the moment, we were family.

I often wondered about that simple greeting, month after month. It bespoke a selflessness for his growing family and his commitment to their needs, even providing new yellow pencils with erasers for schoolwork, when needed. Beneath his quiet manner beat a heart, one with his God, evidenced by the tipping of his hat whenever he drove past a Catholic church. And on the way home from work, he visited the Blessed Sacrament in our parish church: their communion, intense.

Decades of first days of the month followed as I ventured into life, always remembering Dad’s greeting and smile—admittedly, a little thing, but not so little: It felt like the first morning of creation.