March 28, 2014

Happy 80th Birthday

"To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living." 

When Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel said this, he could have been talking about my father.

My dad just turned 80. When I excitedly called him to wish him Happy Birthday, he graciously said, “Thanks. I don’t feel any older than I did yesterday. Or than I did the day before.”

This is my father. His numerical age may move up, but he is as bright, dynamic and busy as he was yesterday. And the day before. And maybe even a decade ago.

Growing older is a privilege as every new day in life is a gift. It is an opportunity to grow, learn, explore and appreciate. My father excels at all of these. He gathers new information at high speed. A history buff, he is often consumed by some dynasty or monarchy or war campaign, loving to share out loud pages from a 500-page volume.

And then he discovers the most unique, exotic, one-of-a-kind stamp there ever was. Or will be. He scurries to his stamp kingdom downstairs for days on end, engrossed in a vast collection that wraps the globe thrice over.

The yellow belly sapsucker? I am sure he saw it decades ago, placing a pencil tick in one of his many bird books.  He has spotted birds in rainforests, coastal estuaries, sunny shores and highlands across the world.

He mastered the art of appreciation at home in his garden. Every morning before work, he would walk beside his flowerbeds and study each new bud, then return home at day’s end to watch in awe those same buds in full bloom. He has since become a rainforest expert. Growing an exotic Costa Rican garden, he can proudly point out a vast collection of ginger plants, bromeliads and the most intensely beautiful bird of paradise.

He continues to learn till today. He is embracing the latest technology, turning his love of photography into beautiful digital photo books. Just recently, he mastered the art of juicing, whipping up a healthy, power-packed green smoothie each morning.

What next? We look forward to many, many more years. 

May my father continue to explore, learn, appreciate and cherish each new day, weaving his life into a master work.

Happy 80th. Love you!

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