So, you're sixty-three years old today. Well done! Many happy returns to the day!
Three sevens ago, at age 42, you achieved your fondest ambition since you started having kids: emptying the nest. I appreciate your offer to keep the door open in case I have to move back in, these economically troubled times being what they are. I hope it doesn't come to that. I am sure you appreciate your independence as much as I do. On the other hand, thanks for the help you have sent my way. I am truly grateful and hope I can soon begin to repay you.
Six sevens ago, age 21, you married my mother, for which I'm grateful because, for better or worse, my existence began as a result. Four sevens ago, at age 35, that marriage officially ended—which, under the circumstances, is also a blessing, since without it, we wouldn't have Cheryl in our lives. And when you reflect that your ex is now an overworked widow with 50% more under-employed sons and 100% more dependent grandkids, you might agree that you got the sweet end of the deal.
Counting forward seven years, you come to the age of 70. It's a nice round number to aim for, and being the "threescore and ten" mentioned in Psalm 90:10 and elsewhere, is starting to look like a paltry minimum life-expectancy. But don't let the running out of your factory warranty fool you. I expect at least fourscore years out of you, old man.
Sixty-three is also seven nines. Three nines ago, the year you turned 36, you married Cheryl, your helpmate and the world's best stepmom. Three nines forward is fourscore years and ten, which is also an acceptable target to aim at. Aim high—isn't that the motto of a certain organization you once belonged to?
You're the best Dad I've ever had. And it isn't as though I've never been asked to accept substitutes. I can think of one in particular, may he rest in pieces, who couldn't hold a candle to you. But let's not talk about him. Let's talk about how proud I have been of my Dad since I was a wee little kid, who secretly glowed inside when he overheard the kids at the local Lutheran school chat about how much they looked forward to my Dad's turn to preach in chapel, because they recognized him as the best preacher in the rota. Or let's talk about how well we got to know each other during my high school years when I was your take-along organist, and we spent so many Sundays driving and working and worshiping together.
Or how about how much laughter and singing we shared during so many long hours in the car, traveling between states (frequently Nebraska and Minnesota). Let's talk about the weird fact that I can count Iowa as one of my seven home states, even though I only lived there about a week, because you moved from "God's country" (Minnesota) just to give your boys a stable and well-funded home. Let's talk about your noble sacrifices, your loving anxiety for your boys, and the humiliating return you have sometimes had for it. Let's talk about your faithfulness in the Lord's work, even when it has been the habit of men to repay you poorly for it. Let's talk about the charm you bring to everyday things, like the purposeless room in an old apartment that you whimsically dubbed "the torture chamber," and the cordless phone that answers to the name of "porta-potty."
For almost 41 of your 63 years, you have been the best influence in my life. Thank you. And please consider going for another 41!