My sister-in-law wrote a touching post for her dad on his birthday, and I liked the idea so much I tucked it away until today- my dad’s 63rd birthday! So dad, here are some ways that I’ve been thankful for your life and how you’ve cared for me over the years.
I’m thankful for how you taught me to enjoy nature. Off the top of my head, some of my most enjoyable times growing up were when taking a family drive around Presque Isle to watch the sunset over Lake Superior, cross-country skiing in the woods on the fit strip behind our house, the putter of an outboard motor on our boat as we found a place to catch bluegills and enjoy the sunlight on the lake during camping trips, pheasant, deer and goose hunting on early foggy mornings and having fun seeing you get “buck fever” after you shot a big deer. There are so many ways that I’ve learned to love being outdoors because of all the adventures you’ve taken me on!
It really is fun playing a joke on someone. While I didn’t think it was so great when I was little, as an adult and a parent I smirk at all the ways you liked to scare us kids when we were little- jumping out from behind boulders while we were hiking, telling me that I would turn into a “fuzzbrain” when I’d rub my blanket against my nose to fall asleep at night, and the relentless army recruiter who kept insisting that I did indeed put my name on a recruiters list my senior year in high school (only to find out that you put my name on it as a joke). I laughed so hard when I watched the “a lesson for dad” episode of Arrested Development because it reminded me of the jokes you’d play on us kids.
Work hard, enjoy life- A few years ago I asked you how you managed to still enjoy your hobbies of hunting and fishing with your rigorous schedule as a professor. Trying to find the balance between work and fun, I had almost entirely plunged into work as a campus staff with InterVarsity, forgetting that reading fiction, canoeing and hiking, and writing help me to rest and enjoy life. I had been so caught up in work, I forgot some of these key things about myself. When you answered me, “why would I stop doing those things?” with a surprised look on your face as if it was a novel idea to stop doing things you loved because work was too consuming.
The academy is a thrilling place to be. As a little girl, I can remember eating in the MSU union when you’d take our family there for trips while you worked. I loved being around college students, the bustle of the university and knowing that the people there were learning so many things. I knew from a young age that I wanted to go to MSU because of those trips wandering around the MSU museum, walking past the giant spartan stadium and seeing all the books in the campus bookstore. I also knew that I wanted to learn as much as my dad & that I hoped to get my PhD some day just like you! (Well, at least my M.A. at this point, who knows what the future holds for me & my brain :). Whether you were teaching college students or sunday school at church, you helped me to understand that learning and teaching others is exciting.
Take your daughter to work days were so much fun with you! I can still recall the smells of hay, soil and the vinyl seats in the MSU pickup trucks we would ride in to field days where you’d instruct farmers about the best ways to grow alfalfa, potatoes, rotationally graze their cows or any other number of things. Even if I was sitting in the truck reading while you lectured, I loved getting to see what you did. Later, when I worked on your research crew during college, I gained a new appreciation for the research you did on alfalfa & just how hard it is to harvest 70 tons of alfalfa, process and weigh all of them for your research trials.
There is lots more that I can write about my appreciation for you, but on your 63rd birthday what I most want to say is thank you for your investment in me and for your love! Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!