My father’s 80th birthday

Today my dad would have turned 80. He died four years ago on February 1, just a few days shy of his birthday.

It is hard to believe it has been four years since that day. My mom has adjusted, as much as possible. She is busy, active, energetic, continuing to pursue their life dream of mission efforts. But she doesn’t forget, of course.

How does it work that life goes on, the current carries us on? There is no choice, that’s how it works.

I think of him often, at odd moments here and there. Little things bring him to mind, and four years down the road, the sadness is mostly gone, and sweetness is in its place. The memories are good, and I smile when I’m reminded of some funny thing he said or did. Sometimes the tears still come, often when I least expect it, surprising me that emotion can bubble up, nearer the surface than I knew.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creating passion in my life. I should say, expanding passion. There are some things I am passionate about, primarily my family. I think about my dad, and how he displayed that quality in his life.

He wasn’t a flashy person, not the cool one in the crowd. But he was a man of faith, an old fashioned faith that wasn’t about fame or fortune. He was a minister, a preacher, a missionary. He had goals for sharing his faith, and he pursued them. He spent most of his life focused on sharing his faith with others, and lived many years in foreign countries to accomplish that goal. He and my mom were partners in life and in faith, and their mission was their passion.

The last couple of years of his life he was not able to travel, except to doctors’ appointments and to hospitals. His world grew smaller, at a time when mine was expanding. It was about that time that Rob and I moved to Alaska, and we traveled a lot. I always called when we traveled, checking in. I would hear his voice, “Where are you now?” A little wistful, it seemed to me. I’m sure he was thinking of past years when he was well and able to be about his life’s work. It pricked my heart to know that he would likely not make those journeys again.

This week I’m traveling again, in Anchorage for a training, and I heard a little voice in my head as I was packing. “Where are you now?” I’m right here, Daddy, thinking of you, and wishing I could sing happy birthday to you in person. But you’re where you belong, too. I know that because I also have a faith. It is a bit different from my dad’s. My faith has not prompted me to live abroad, or to choose a missionary life. But it is there, nonetheless.

Milestone birthdays are always special, celebrated with a little extra excitement. If my dad was here, we would do a big family gathering, make a special event of the day. But without him, of course that isn’t happening. Still, I like to think that he’s having his party. I like to think that he’s off on a journey, traveling like he loved to do. And because I haven’t been on that journey myself, I ask him, “Where are you now?”

Happy Birthday to my dad. Happy birthday, Daddy.

23 thoughts on “My father’s 80th birthday

  1. Sheila, What wonderful thoughts about your daddy! I think about my dad, Richard Sinquefield in odd moments too! Your mom is a fond memory to me in that she was my first bible school teacher (that I remember) at the church out on the highway next door to Dr. Ridell. I remember Betty Clyde dating and finally marrying your dad. Your dad is my first thought as a missonary, in that that’s what he did and when I hear someone say India I think of him and your mom toiling in that country. You had a great dad and a wonderful mother. I love them to this day!


    • Thank you so much for your words! I appreciate you sharing your memories with me, and I’m glad that my mom and dad touched you with their faith.

      Well, I have good memories of your parents too, and being in their home growing up. I love that I have been able to reconnect with Karen and Carla via FB, and have a little window into their lives…you guys all seem to have a strong bond, and that’s so special! It is good to have those roots, and to nurture them! I’ve really appreciated the rediscovery of some of my roots. Old friendships are a blessing! ~ Sheila


  2. i like your lines saying ” old fashion FAITH” i can really relate what you mean by this line because my late husband also has this kind of faith he was also a church minister, a preacher and a Filipino missionary. Wish and pray that there will be more bretheren in CHRIST who will have this öld fashion faith. I have read a lot of your father’s books and articles and i really salute your father’s faith. You are so lucky to have a father like him and a mother like BETTY. Be blessed more.


    • Thank you, thank you, for your kinds words, and for your sincere wishes that faith may spread! We need that in this world for sure!
      Yes, I am fortunate to have had wonderful parents. My mom and dad were quite a team! My mom is doing her best without my dad, but losing him left a big hole in her heart. It sounds like you’ve experienced a similar loss, and I’m sorry for that. Blessings and peace to you in your walk of faith. ~ Sheila


    • What a sweet thing to say! Thank you for reading, and for commenting. I hope you find the dad you seek…a person doesn’t have to be connected by blood to be fill the role of a mother or a father in another’s life … ~ Sheila


  3. I adored your Daddy almost as much as I adore your mother. I loved spending the night with Darla when he was home and not traveling. After Shannon (Brad) was born and was a toddler and I would come over just to play with him, your Daddy would come upon us playing in the sunken den and just stand there and smile. He had such a gentle smile. He would tell me stories about India and talk to me about the bible. I had tremendous respect for J.C. Don’t you know we’ll have such a wonderful time when we are reunited with those who have gone before us?


    • Carla, you have such a wonderful way of remembering detail! Thank you for sharing your memories with me. Yes, as the song says, the circle will be unbroken! Good to have faith, and to share it with family and friends. That means more to me the older I get…I suppose it begins to be more real as you lose loved ones. I know you understand that too.



  4. I love this posting, Sheila. I fondly remember the time your dad and mom honored us by coming to visit for one night. We sat on the front porch swing, sipping sweet tea, listening to stories of their work in India. Your dad impressed me as a quiet humble man of gentle strength. Yes, he is just where he longed to be- the greatest destination of all his travels.


    • Thank you Ann, that was such a lovely thing to say! They always loved visiting with people who shared their faith, and I don’t believe anyone ever visited your home that wasn’t royally welcomed!



Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s