Tomorrow is your 70th birthday!!! It is strange because I honestly consider you to be more in your 50s than turning 70 (although that is not possible since I am 41… age is funny that way). As I think of celebrating you, I can’t help but reflect on the amazing person you have been in my life since the day I was born. I don’t take for granted having a father like you, having a relationship with you, being loved by you. So for your 70th birthday, I share ten of my favorite memories of life with you!
- When I was little, I remember going to work with you every Saturday. You had to go to finish a few things up from the week while no one else was around. I wanted to join you each time… you paid me $1 because you felt bad I was missing Saturday morning cartoons… in reality, you letting me come made me feel so special. Not only did I get to tag along, you gave me an important task, separating triplicates and organizing them by color. I cherish the memories of those Saturday mornings. You have always helped me be part of your life and made me feel valued and impart.
- Often on Sunday nights I would fall asleep in your bed watching TV with mom. You would be watching football in the living room… mom and I would be watching something on the channel playing classic movies. If I was already asleep, you would pick me up and carry me to my room… I can’t tell you how many times I pretended to be asleep just so you would carry me to my room… looking back you have carried me so many times in life.
- If was my freshman year in high school and both of us were fully invested in me running track. I remember you bought a few training videos on how to do the long jump and triple jump. District track was in Post and the triple jump was my first event. You were there the entire time keeping track of each jump. You had such an amazing way of fully supporting me without pressuring me. I had one jump left and we both knew it needed to be good for me to finish in the top three and qualify for regionals. All I remember was flying in the air and as I landed I heard you yell, “YES.” I ran to you and hugged you. You have always been there to cheer for me as I sail to new heights.
- When mom died, I don’t think any of us knew how to move forward. I can’t imagine the pain you experienced, yet you continued to have the focus on me and Mandy. The first Christmas you had my quilt finished… the quilt mom and I had started that summer, yet she didn’t finish. The quilt is so symbolic of so much of life… mom started so many things in my life, yet she left before they were finished, and you have helped to pick up the pieces and make something beautiful of what was left.
- My junior year at Baylor I was heading to Australia in February for five months. First you completely supported me in this adventure, second I will never forget the few months I lived with you before I left. We watched countless hours of Forensic Files, New Detective, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000. While we had fun, most of all I really feel like this was the time our friendship started to develop. I had often heard of when a parent and child start to grow to be friends, and oh how this time was special for me. Those few months were the start of a friendship with you that has only grown.
- When I told you I was moving to North Carolina to pursue a PhD you were my biggest supporter. I know it was hard on you… me moving so far away, but you did not let your feelings stop me at all. As you and Peggy were moving me into my new apartment, I can clearly remember walking into the spare room. You were putting a bookcase together and crying. You looked at me and said, “it is starting to look like a home.” I think at that moment we both knew this was a big change for both of us, yet you encouraged me to use my wings and fly.
- Doing your doctorate is like eating an elephant… you take one bite at a time. These were your words of wisdom for the three years I was completing my doctorate. Each obstacle you were only a phone call away encouraging me and providing words of wisdom. It was only appropriate you got to take part in the graduation ceremony and hood me.
- One of my biggest struggles in life was a completely failed relationship. I have no clue how you kept your mouth shut as I made numerous bad decisions, but you did. You knew I needed to go down the path and figure out life for myself… yet not once, but twice you welcomed me with open arms as I flew all the way home from NC a mess. You did not judge. You listened, you supported, you offered perspective, but most of all you loved me, you believed in me, and you trusted that I would find my way and make the best decision for myself. Your belief in me during those few years meant more to me than you will ever know. You trusted me to find my way and somewhere I learned to trust myself to find my way.
- You always said things change when you become a parent and you weren’t kidding. Having Keaton has given me an entirely new perspective on you as my parent. I see the wisdom and care in little decisions you made as I was growing up. I also am encouraged when I talk with you and you are open about times of struggle as a parent and not knowing what to do. You have never once told me how to parent, instead you have walked with me and offered love and support. Keaton is lucky you are his Papa.
- Dad, you really are one of my best friends. If I am struggling or I am joyous, you are who I want to call. You have never made me feel bad about myself, instead you have believed in me more than I could have ever imagined. My entire life you have raised me up to be more than I can be. I love you dad and Happy Birthday.