I took this photo at Xander’s farewell and it makes us all laugh out loud.
On Mary’s birthday, something spiked her emotions and she shed a few tears. Embarrassed she quickly wiped them away and tried to leave the conversation. Hans jumped in to reassure her, “Hey,” he said, “I cry on all my birthdays. It’s normal.”
Since Hans is the walking personification of sunshine, we were all surprised. “Really? You? Even your last birthday?”
“Oh yeah. Usually it’s just one overwhelming moment, but I’ve cried on every birthday. It’s just an emotional day. You examine your whole life and the actual birthday– and your vision of how your birthday and your life should be– never seems to measure up. And then you eat some cake and move on and everything looks better the next day.”
So, I think it was pretty natural when Erik got kind of sad a few days before his birthday. He’s turning 49 and like most of us, he just thought he’d have figured it out by now. When it comes to the arbitrary measures of success in our neck of the woods– church leadership/networking/work accolades– he’s the Invisible Man. But I’d argue he’s successful in all the ways that really matter. He’s the man who gets the job done, who sits down next to the person no one else is talking to, who keeps our house stocked with Kleenex, who writes the best letters to missionaries, who takes Gabe to CrossFit at inconvenient hours and listens to Mary complain about school. He supports my crazy ideas and always, always, always makes us laugh. It’s no small job to raise six amazing kids and he’s instilled his steady goodness in each one of them.
- The kids get all their musical talent from him. He has a lovely voice and plays the trumpet. I’m almost tone deaf.
- Erik never swears in anger. He only swears to make people laugh or to instill a lesson. And only Bible swears.
- On any given day/week/month/year Erik has some sort of sports injury– scrapes, pulled muscles, overuse, etc. If you have an injury and need advice/treatment ideas he can probably help you out.
- Dark chocolate only. Thanks.
- Erik has an amazing ear for languages and often convinces people he’s fluent (until they get past the first thirty words).
- Confusing scriptures and gospel concepts are suddenly clear when Erik explains them. He has a talent for making the gospel relatable and straightforward.
- We have a lot of good bakers around here, but no one can rival Erik’s chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. He went through a stage where he was trying to make them more healthy by using coconut oil and whole wheat flour– it was sad. A cookie should be a cookie.
- If someone has a tattoo or unusual piercing Erik will be the first to ask them about it. And they usually become friends.
- Erik’s kind of lost with technology (that’s my forte) but he’s brilliant with money. Few things make him happier than crunching numbers on mortgage rates or analyzing stocks.
- He’d rather be on a beach for his birthday– but he paid my tuition bill instead.
As much as he loves beaches, if you ask Erik his favorite place in the world it’s around the kitchen table with the whole family eating dinner. We discuss politics and religion, we’re loud and often irreverent, we laugh and laugh and laugh and Erik reigns over it all, enjoying the fruits of his success.
Happy Birthday love. We’re nothing without you.