He will probably never read this as operating a computer and accessing the internet is a serious struggle for him, but I’m writing this anyway to show some appreciation for who he is and what he’s done. I know if he does read this he’ll call me up to try and downplay everything I’ve said, because he’s just that kind of man.
He’s an old soul with an old world’s gentlemanly nature. I cannot count the times he’s demonstrated to sheer perfection how to treat a lady and how to conduct yourself around others. If he wasn’t instructing me like so “James, you make sure you take care of her”, or, “James, she deserves it, it’s very nice and she’s very important”, he was leading by example with his wife of 57 years almost every waking moment of his life. His approach to care and love and putting others first is almost monastic and he devotes most of his thoughts to how he can better everyone else around him.
At the age of 79 it’s clear he still views himself as a 34 year old man at the prime of his life. He will not sit down, and he will not take a break. He’s the treasurer of his local RSL and he does practically everything he can for the local care cottage. If there’s someone who needs taxiing down the mountain to the hospital he’s the one doing it. If there’s building work to be done, government grants needed, council proposals to be drawn up, and dishes to be washed, he’s the one doing it. If someone misses a meeting he’s the one calling them at ungodly hours of the day to make sure they are caught up. It’s truly remarkable what he does with his time.
I always thought my wanderlust was a product of my own goals and aspirations but now that I am older I am more aware of just how likely it is it runs in my blood. A traveler in his own right he joined the army and helped the poor communities in Papua New Guinea in his youth. He’s seen the best and worst of Asia and in a period of time where racism can be the norm, he’s as accepting and tolerance a man you’ll meet. I’ve never seen someone so lively when telling a story of their past, and he has this way of teleporting you there with him. You stand beside him as he transfixes you with his tales and adventures and his blue eyes light up every time he remembers a new detail. He has known some very famous people and told me some stories of his and their lives that leave me in awe.
Most recently he was here for the weekend enjoying the beach house and he spent most of it bewildered by the view. It was inspiring to see a man his age still be able to find the joys in small things like the smell of the air and the sound of the ocean and the way the sunset wonderfully illuminates the horizon every night. I can only hope i’m that enthusiastic at his age.
So I guess all I meant to say is thank you for teaching me so many important lessons throughout my life, and leading by example throughout your own life. Happy 35th birthday and many more to come!