Birthdays come and they go. For most of us they aren’t a real accomplishment. They just happen, like the tides, naturally and mostly unavoidable. But for some people, reaching a birthday milestone is a real achievement. So I want to wish my father a very Happy Birthday and congratulations for making it to 80–because in this case is a real accomplishment!
My father credits modern medicine for outliving every known male relative in his family and this certainly had a hand in his longevity. But at a certain point, living to 80, and beyond, also means making good choices for lifestyle, diet and exercise.
When people hear about my parent’s divorce while I was in college and that they each made marriages to younger spouses, I hear comments on how weird must be. But the reality is that it works just fine. And I know that it is part of the secret to my father’s achieving 80. You see, about 30 years ago my father married a younger woman. Not a full generation younger, but just young enough to make a difference. I attribute a lot of his current good health and well-being to his need to keep up with her. The two kids they had together didn’t hurt either–having people to live for make a huge difference. So thank you Karen, Heather and Bradley.
My father is an incredibly loving and kind hearted man. Growing up, his love and acceptance was incredibly nurturing. His legacy is his four children and the love he gave us. I hope that I have been able to share that kind of love and acceptance as a parent with my kids.
When it turned out that my husband’s sabbatical meant our living overseas for the first half of 2014, I knew that I had to find a way to get back to NYC for his 80th birthday. So early in our planning for our time in Melbourne, Australia, we built in a two week trip for me back to the United States to coincide with his birthday. With the cooperation of relatives up and down the USA eastern seaboard we pulled off surprising him for the big event.
Last month I flew to the states, stopping in Fiji for the day, before flying to Washington, DC to visit with relatives there. Both kids met me: my daughter on her spring break from Syracuse University and my son in from Silicon Valley. The three of us then drove to Princeton., NJ to see my mother and her husband and then onto NYC to surprise my father for his birthday.
On his actual birthday, we waited in a restaurant in Manhattan, me my kids and my son’s girlfriend. at the right time we watched them come in. It was priceless: seeing the look on his face as he saw us and realized I had flown in all the way from Australia to be with him for his 80th. On his face I saw his surprise, his delight and his love all rolled into one. We both were overcome with emotion.
It was a wonderful moment and a great evening. Two days later we threw him a big party. Here is a photo of my dad with his four kids and one of his four grandchildren.
I am very lucky that I have had such a long and loving relationship with my father. He has been a source of love and acceptance my whole life. I can’t imagine not being there with him to celebrate this great milestone.
So whether it is modern medicine, your second family, making good health choices or just great luck, I am thrilled that I got to celebrate your 80th birthday with you Dad. I challenge you to make 90–no matter where I am in the world, I’ll show up if you do!
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