For Heather at Age 40
I have been thinking about your 40th birthday for months.
Where do I start? What do I say?
The image that keeps popping into my head is when you were a baby...
sitting in a big and shiny clean garbage can looking up at me.
I still have the picture.
I smile every time I think about it.
That's where to start—a picture of you as a baby.
You were helpless and needy, scared and unsure.
Oh my, how things have changed.
I told you I regret the quality of the time we spent before you were a teen.
I was a little lost and into myself, and sometimes I lost sight of you.
But we fixed that,
and my pride and love for you has never stopped growing--
from watching you play softball and field hockey, to IUP, marriage, and motherhood.
You are a beautiful, savvy, loving and engaged mother and wife.
You dated great guys, but you married your "soul mate."
How many people can say that?
I cherish that we shared the Letters to Heather experience.
It's great that the book and the Oprah Show came with it,
but what was most important to me is how it helped us connect.
The letters allowed me to be a dad and a mentor and a friend all in one.
Letters to Heather is the single most important thing I ever did.
I carry a movie in my mind of how you reacted when the book arrived in Knoxville.
On the back page of Letters to Heather is The Journey.
I said my spirit would be stowed away as you and Mike traveled around the country.
I wanted you to know how much I admired what you were doing,
and I wanted you to know I would be there if you needed me.
That was 15 years ago and nothing has changed.
I watch in amazement and admiration as you
raise a family and make new friends,
and explore things that lead to personal growth.
So here you are at 40.
The kid in the garbage can has become a beautiful woman,
capable of doing anything she wants.
I confess to being prejudice when it comes to you,
but I say this as objectively as I possible can...
You are the finest example of a wife, mother, and daughter I have ever seen,
and my pride and love for you is beyond expression.
Tell Heidi I love her too.
August 10, 2010