My dad turned 70 this year. Following is the letter I wrote him celebrating his birthday. I post it today to celebrate him again on Father's Day.
30 April 2011
For your birthday I want to write to tell you how I am grateful for you being my father and to tell you what I have learned from you.
You and mom have instilled in me a great strength and independence given partially by your teaching to have great faith in God and partially by your own good example of doing so. I am grateful for the way in which this has made my life possible and blessed. All of my successes and any recognition I may have for who I am and the life I live is due to your support, your good parenting, and God's will. Thank you.
From your example I have learned what a dedicated and strong man amounts to. Your life has been an incredible gift of devotion and commitment to your family. I have seen you live this way through your commitment to God's word, as I have said, but also through your determination to work hard and steadily and to cultivate always that which you know is both best and long lasting. I see this sense of cultivation both in your ways of bringing home material needs financially and otherwise, and also in your deep sense of public dignity. From you I have learned much about how to get along with others and make public interactions go smoothly. I have also learned how to make others comfortable in a way that shows who they are is appreciated. You show these behavioral qualities best, I think, when in groups at public events and I appreciate what I have learned from witnessing that.
One of my clearest memories is of seeing you speak at the dedication of the Emily Ivanof Brown, Ticasuk Elementary School. I was in awe at your charisma and clarity in speaking. When I started teaching being in front of so many people made me nervous but I would think back to that memory of you at Ticasuk Elementary and use it as my model for how to be in the classroom. I told myself that if I could bring some small portion of what you did to that event I would do okay.
You and Mom have always offered me incredible loving support. Your affection to Rachel too has made both her and my life better. I feel blessed to know that she too can receive examples of God's gifts through your presence in her life. It means a lot to me to know she can be there with you for your birthday even when I can not. She loves you very much. Her time with you to berry pick in the summers, and see Alaska with you in other ways is a crucial part of her developing as her own strong and graceful person. I thank you for your commitment to her as well.
I love you very much, Dad, and am grateful you are my father.
With all my heart,
Your daughter, Elaine