Jul 23, 2013

My Template for the Next Fifty Years: 90 Years Young

William F. Leen, 90 years young on June 5, 2013 (Photo taken at his 90th birthday party, Sunday, June 9, 2013)

My father in-law celebrated his 90th birthday this past June 5, 2013. We held a little party in his honor the following weekend on Sunday, June 9.
Ninety years is a long time!  But dad sure has made it look good.  His mind is sharp, his health is good, and his spirits are as positive as they've always been in the 18 years I've known him.  I look at him at 90 and I see a template for what I'd like to be in fifty years (assuming the Lord doesn't return first):

Dad raking the lawn of excess mown grass on the morning of his 90th birthday party. 
He's still active.  Dad is not content to sit around and watch TV.  He likes to be active, up and about, doing things.  He works around the house and yard.  He exercises daily with a small set of dumbbells and has even taken up a mild running regimen. I may not be running 10Ks or half marathons (or maybe I will) but if I'm at least as active as dad as in fifty years, I'll be doing pretty good.

Dad with his best friend from high school, Charlie Whistler
Dad is a quiet guy but he manages to stay in touch with a few close friends.  One of his best friends from high school, Charlie Whistler came to his party and they seemed to just pick up where they left off.  Dad said he made a special effort to spend most of his time at the party with Charlie as he knew Charlie wouldn't know anyone else there.  What a friend!  I hope in fifty years, I'll still be in touch the good friends I have now.

Dad and Mom Leen
 Dad's still married to the same girl he fell in love with almost fifty years ago.  That's my plan too.

The Leen Family
Dad's got two daughters.  I've got two sons.  I hope I'll be able to put my arms around my two kids when I"m ninety too.
Dad's birthday pies.  Dad loves pie, especially apple and pumpkin, so I made him these two apple pies and a pumpkin pie (not pictured) for his birthday celebration.
 Dad takes joy in the little things of life, like a good crossword puzzle or a slice of pie.  Dad's a simple man.  He doesn't require a lot of fuss.  He likes plain, simple food, and doesn't need a lot of flash and razzle-dazzle to be entertained.  I hope that I can learn to take pleasure in simple things too and truly savor each moment in life over the next fifty years.  I also hope I still like pie as much when I'm 90 as he and I both do today!

Most important--and this can't be pictured, only experienced when you have the good fortune to spend time with him--is dad's gentle, Christ-like spirit.  Dad is a man of deep faith, but he's never let religion get in the way of his connection to Jesus or his treatment of his fellow man.  He's the kindest person I've ever met.  He shows a genuine interest in other people like few others I've ever encountered.  He is humble and generous in spirit.  He is patient and loving.  He is everything I hope to be not just when I'm 90, but right now.

Happy birthday Dad!  And  may you have many, many more.

Some pictures from Dad's 90th birthday celebration:

The cake, with exactly 90 candles on it.

Lighting ninety candles took awhile. . .

Dad's cake aflame.
It took more than one blast, but Dad actually managed to blow out all the candles.  The candles burned so fast however, that we had to wait until he blew them out before singing "Happy Birthday" and even then, half the cake was covered in melted wax.  Maybe a literal ninety candles wasn't such a good idea after all!

Mom Leen and her sisters.  I believe they all came to the party except one that lives on the West Coast.

Hanging out with Leens on the front lawn.  The whole party was classic Bill Leen.  Simple food, not a lot of commotion, just the simple, deep joy of being with people you love.

Two of my heroes:  Dad with his brother-in-law, Gene Brock.   Check out my 2007 and 2009 Heroes blogs to find out why each of these great men of the Greatest Generation are my heroes.  Dad's last remaining sibling, his little sister (and Uncle Gene's wife) Betty passed away this past April.

Dad with his family: neices, nephews, brother-in-law, grandchildren, daughters, wife.  He is a blessed man and we are blessed to have him in our lives.


Carmyn Hardt said...

What a beautiful testimony to the life and gift of Barbara's and your father. Thanks for sharing. There's a reason Barbara picked such a good man in you!

Carmyn Hardt said...

What a beautiful testimony to the life and example of Barbara's and your father. Thanks for sharing. There's a reason Barbara picked such a good man in you...