Happy 65th birthday today. You don't look a day older than the first time I saw you forty years ago. I remember that moment quite distinctly. I was testing my amazing lung capacity when I saw the nun who delivered me, but when you held me in your arms for the very first time and I saw that tear run down your cheek in slow motion I knew we'd be alright.
You were the one who taught me the wonder of great Afrikaans poetry at the tender age of seven when you recited Vergewe en vergeet (forgive and forget) by Totius from a collection of poems with yellow, tired pages. My friends were busy with reading four word sentences while I was being introduced to a world of literature that still amazes me to this day. Thanks to you I had bragging rights since I was a natural blond.
I would like to thank you for building a pool at our old house. Two of my best childhood memories were made in that pool and no, you perverts, I was an innocent child back then who's main concern was staying up to watch Rescue 911.
The one memory involved a boy (don't look so shocked) three years older than me. Our parents were friends and would visit each other every weekend. When you are 12 and a boy is 15, he is a god. Usually when boys go to high school they start thinking that themselves, but not this one. We'd go swimming in our pool on a Sunday evening with the stars being our only light and he'd talk to me like my opinion actually mattered. Love is hard, okay, and puppy love even more so. I always punched him (you hurt the ones you love) and the one time I even winded him. He tried to brush it off, but I think he was just trying to be macho and maintain the godly-composure. He was my first love and I would always remember the way he made me feel. If it wasn't for that pool, Dad, I would never have had those incredible moments with that boy.
Thank you for always singing so loud in church that even the deaf lady three rows in front of us turned her head. This taught me that you should do what you love no matter what other people might think of it. And thank you for supporting me when I went to varsity and studied literature when everyone else played judge Judy; thank you for paying everything off so I could start my life debt free. I have never taken you working from 5am to 10pm for granted when I see how my friends struggle. That is the greatest gift you have ever given me.
Thank you for always giving my brother a crack when he teased me and said I was adopted. If there were another person with a temper like ours walking around, the world would be a dangerous place, you proclaimed. We don't have tempers, Dad, we just know what we want.
And now, on your 65th birthday, you should look back upon your life with a smile because you've been doing pretty good so far. I hope the next 65 will exceed all your expectations and that we'd be there to share every step with you. Besides, you need some kind of chaos in your life to keep things interesting, right?
Your grateful and loving daughter.