I don’t have much to give you. A little manual labour, some cookies from time to time, a bit of music when the baby isn’t sleeping, and these words. Just a few clumsy words. You’re the man who has everything- you say that every day is like Christmas. You don’t need gift-wrapped, earthly treasures because, for you, happiness is just a book by Chesterton on the banks of the Frio River. I wish I could give you that today. I wish I could find a spectacular way to make your 50th birthday special. But I know you prefer simplicity to spectacle, and so instead of a gift wrapped in paper and tied with ribbons, I give you a letter wrapped in memories and tied with words that will never die. I’m not sure if, when I’m finished, I’ll be proud to set these words free upon eternity, but I hope they honour you despite their inadequacy.
I cannot hope to express what a blessing you have been in my life. In a world parched for courage; a world silently calling out for its men to stand up and be examples of Micah 6:8; a world full of children looking for someone worthy of admiration, I had to look no further than you. In a world packed with absentee fathers, you were always there. You were my lighthouse on the shore, guiding me to safe harbours. You were the rainstorm in a drought, the philosopher among the peasants, the work by Lewis on a shelf of works by lunatics. All these you were, and are, to me. When I wanted your advice, and especially when I didn’t, you pointed me along on the straight and narrow path. And whenever I sat down on the journey, you showed me the ugliness of the pools of apathy I poured for myself. You were, for me, a living picture of who I wanted to become. Perhaps that is because you were, and are, and are becoming a living picture of Christ. He was, and is, and is to come in you. I have followed you as you uncovered the truth He wanted you to find, seen you bind it to your heart, and prayed for such devotion to be found in me. I have watched you hold our family on your shoulders, lightening our burdens, and prayed for such faithfulness to be found in me. I have read the books you love, listened to the music you enjoy, laughed at the jokes you find funny, and cried when you were passionate, because if you think something is worthy of praise, it is. Over time, I’ve come to admire all those things for myself, and not just because you do. But I think that just makes me trust you even more.
You’ve been my guardian and my inspiration; my father and my friend. The Lord has done wondrous things for you, and thus, for me. Thank you for being the wind of love and clarity and nobility in my life. Thank you for the evenings hitting golf balls in the empty lot across the street and the harpsichord concerts in winter. Thank you for the times you took the frogs out of the pool, the games of “Squirrel” in the yard, the annual trips to the Dollar Tree in the mall at Christmas time, and the annual trips to RiverBend in the summer. Thank you for the times you apologized when you were wrong and the times you made me apologize when I was wrong. Thank you for forcing me to read those long, boring Carson history books, getting me all the way from long division to derivatives, and blasting Praetorius in the car. Thank you for reading The Lord of the Rings aloud, driving me to all those voice lessons, coming up with my Facebook password, and twirling me around to Joplin before we bought the coffee table. Thank you for brainstorming more syllables to add to the word, “antidisestablishmentarianism”, setting the alarm during tournaments, and all those Mars Hill audio tapes and discussions about God and culture and ideas. Thank you for showing me how to stretch barbed wire and spread peat moss and rip my clothes and get dirty knees working on the land. Thank you for teaching me to shine with a light and follow a star that isn’t mine. You have been all and everything a father is called to be, and I am blessed and honoured to be an arrow in your quiver. Wherever I go, your legacy will go with me. I am proud to carry it.
Your Devoted Daughter