Exclusive: Howard K. Stern Talks Father’s Day; Larry Birkhead Plans Special Day for Dannielynn; Mystery Flowers on Anna’s Grave…
By Art Harris, (c) The Bald Truth, all rights reserved
It will be a poignant first Father’s Day for Dannielynn, the first one with her new Dad, Larry Birkhead, who’s busy fixing up the Studio City house, new paint, new carpets, baby-proofing, to raise his little girl the way Anna would have wanted, friends tell me, …and the first time Anna Nicole hasn’t played Dad for her children on Father’s Day.
“Anna saw herself as both mother and father to Daniel,” Howard K. Stern is telling me in an emotional late night call from the Bahamas, before taking off to spend Sunday with his own father and family in California. “Everyone used to get her cards and presents and flowers. Just like we did on Mother’s Day. ”
Her favorites were lilies, Stargazers and pink roses, he’s saying. And before he flew home to also meet with probate lawyers for the June 19 hearing that’s expected to name Stern executor and Birkhead guardian of the estate, Stern made a private visit to the Bahamas cemetery to leave flowers on Anna’s grave, next to her late son, Daniel, the same flowers they used to pick out for Anna together.
“Daniel gave her a painting he’d done on the last Father’s Day they spent together,” says Stern. “He spent the day with his mother, and it was really special to her. The family was there, even Larry (Birkhead) came by.”
Nowadays, Stern usually visits Anna and Daniel alone, at odd hours, to avoid paparazzi on Horizons’ watch, so he can weep privately for the woman he loved and managed for almost 11 years, whose career he helped turn around, and the quiet, blond-haired boy he mentored who, friends tell me, looked up to Stern as a father figure.
“I loved Daniel,” he says. “We spent a lot of time together. I watched him grow up…Anyone who knows how we were knows that. It’s sickening to hear what some people who don’t know what happened are saying. But the truth will come out.”
“If Daniel wanted to go to the movies or to get food, Howard went with him,” says his sister, Bonnie Stern in Los Angeles. “Howard took him to buy clothes or video games, just normal things a Dad would do.”
It’s the story few want to hear, says Stern, reluctant to delve into the relentless talk show attacks against him as the “designated bad guy,” or share his private grief in a savage media arena. He’s grown thick skin, he says. “Anna understood it because she rarely got a break in the press,” he says. “She used to say, ‘If I were a nun, they’d accuse me of (sleeping with) the Pope.’”
“The year before last, Daniel spent the day with her and painted her a picture,” he recalls. “Larry was there, too, with the whole family, and we all got her cards because she loved Father’s Day.”
With little or no contact between Daniel and his Texas biodad, Anna took on the role of father and mother, says Stern, for better or worse. Friends believe Daniel’s death was her tipping point.
Over his strained voice, I can hear dogs yapping and growling, as Stern takes a minute to referee the squabble between Sugar Pie, Frankie, Marylin and Puppy, Anna’s beloved dogs. “They’re the only connection I’ve got to her now that Dannielynn is gone,” he says, reluctant to leave them to others to care for while he’s gone. They sleep on the bed with him at night, he says, as they did with Anna, and keep him up fighting to get close. He doesn’t mind.
Stern rarely sleeps, tells me he dozes off in the early morning for a couple of hours, before getting back on the phone with lawyers over issues with the house, the estate, the looming inquest, conferring with Larry about what’s best for Dannielynn. On Father’s Day, two men, once at odds, who both love a little girl, and grieve a loss.
He says they are working together to make sure her life is safe and secure, as Anna would have wanted. And he’s hoping he’ll get the only present he really wants–a chance to see and hold Dannielynn one more time. “The only thing better would be for Anna and Daniel to be here.”