Two days ago was your 70th birthday! We talked early on Wednesday morning. I am writing you this letter to say congrats again on reaching this milestone.
I remember your 50th birthday party at our house in South Holland. You had some of your closest friends and the entire family there to celebrate with you. We thought, or at least I thought, that you were getting old.
Fifty years of age does not make you an old man. I have good friends in their fifties. Perspective and time change everything.
Twenty years later, and now I know you are climbing the age ladder. That’s a polite way of saying that now, you are really getting old! But, consider it from this lens; you are maturing and growing wiser with every year.
I hate that my family could not make the trip and be there with you in Kansas. Up until yesterday, I considered hopping on a flight. Today, I have a mandatory immigration appointment to attend. You also know about our concerns with international travel during this pandemic.
I hope you understand and can forgive us for not being present in person for your celebrations.
Without a doubt, my sisters and mom will make sure that you know how much we appreciate you in our lives. You have served as a consistent provider and pillar of moral support. Dad, you are the proverbial rock of our family.
Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me, my siblings, and mom.
On another note, did you know that we despised growing up as the pastor’s kids? The pressure to be on our best behavior was exhausting. We resisted the spotlight in various ways and caused your hair to turn gray and leave prematurely.
When you see my kids act out and changes in my hair, it must bring you a hint of joy to see karma in action!
I apologize for my foolishness as a kid. I hope you now see that the headaches were worth shaping me into the man I am today. Your disciplined approach to learning encouraged me to choose a career where reading and writing are the prerequisites for advancement. I am also like you in my commitments to early morning workouts.
On your birthday, I called you at 5 AM PST, not surprised to hear that you were out riding your bike and picking up trash from the streets of LA. I do hope that you will drop some of your routines this weekend and appreciate the moment.
Together with mom, you raised six kids to become adults. In various personal and professional capacities, we are successful, thanks to your consistency in our lives. If I haven’t said thank you enough over the years, let me say it again for the fourth time in this letter, THANK YOU!
All dads encounter challenges with raising their children. But, overall, you did a great job of attempting to maintain your multiple responsibilities. I am grateful to call you dad.
What I remember most favorably from my younger years are the many trips we took to the YMCA to play basketball. We often teamed up to play versus your best friend and his son. On most occasions, we won thanks to my speed and your jump shot.
More recently, I hold on to the memory of our bike ride adventure in Bali. We had no idea how long and extensive the bike tour would be, but the duration, twists, and turns strengthened our bond. It was a phenomenal experience that took us from rice fields to ancient temples on rented bicycles through some of the most treacherous roads.
Just in case your age causes you to forget, there are some clips of the ride in your tribute video below!
Nowadays, I appreciate our weekly check-ins and hearing about your 4 AM bicycle rides and walking meetings with your friends. You and mom always emphasized the importance of taking care of our bodies, minds, and souls. For years, I witnessed you two exercising, praying, and reading together.
I respect your commitments to mom, the church, and consistent efforts to improve your health.
You often have a full schedule, so I will cut this letter short. I love you, and happy 70th bday:)