My dad would have been 70 years old today. He was never really into birthday celebrations or having anyone make a fuss over him. He appreciated a card or a "Happy Birthday pop" as much as the next guy but that was the extent of it for him.
As he got older, I noticed a distinct change in his personality. He became more emotional. At first it manifest itself in anger, not towards anyone but rather towards an idea or suggestion that he feared. I remember him being angry that my family and I were traveling on a long distance vacation. He was indignant at the thought of me going to Brazil, two different times. He was angry, not at me but rather at the possibilities. He was angry because he cared. He didn't want anything to happen to anyone and his mind, the easiest way to accomplish that was to keep everyone indoors at all times.
As he aged, his anger morphed into a deeper, more tearful expression. He would cry over anything. For a guy that spent much of his life as a meat cutter and then police officer, he tended to wear his emotions on his sleeve in his older age.
I remember one birthday, my wife and I purchased him the ultimate gift in his eyes, "A Home Depot Gift Card". It seemed to lack the personal touch but it was what he preferred. In our effort to personalize it, my creative wife wrapped the gift card and placed it inside the vest of a stuffed bear. She then wrapped that bear inside of a box, and then another box and still another box, each wrapped neatly with the expectation that inside was, "the gift". As he unwrapped the first box and discovered that there was yet another box he began to tear up. With each box he opened his crying intensified until the room full of his wife, sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren grew silent. By the time he reached the bear and discovered the gift card inside the vest he was in full crying mode. I remember hugging him and his comment of, "That was so nice."
As I reflect on this, the day of his 70th birthday, I am reminded and encouraged that as "nice" as that "present" was, there is nothing greater than the "presence" he is experiencing at this moment. He is face to face with God Himself, His heavenly Father, worshipping at the foot of the throne with an angelic choir. For that I am grateful.
As I think about my life I see strong similarities between my father and I. I am growing more emotional. As I grow older, I am realizing that all of the presents in the world, all of the nice things, all of the toys, all of the cars, all of the tech, all of the stuff that we spend so much of our time clamoring for is meaningless compared to the presence of God Almighty.
Don't miss the presence for the presents. Stay focused. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
Happy birthday pop. I love you.