Today is Norman Mathiasen’s eighty-fifth birthday. And although we have both aged at roughly the same pace for all the years I’ve been thinking about aging, it seems crazy to me that I have an eighty-five year old father. Of course it also seems crazy to me that I am a fifty-seven year old man. Time waits for no man, as the old saying goes… I was scrounging through shelves in closets this morning looking for some papers that had some passwords I needed, and I came across this old photograph. It was taken sometime in the early eighties, during the time I was farming with Dad. The eighties were not a great time to be farming, at least not if a person wanted to make any money. But it was a rich season of life for me in many ways when it came to relationships. Although I lived in a great bachelor pad, I spent a lot of time with Dad, and Mom as well, learning more of the farm and what it took to make things work from season to season during that time. One of the things that was more my interest than Dad’s was what shows in the photo above. I had a herd of sheep. And though they could be incredibly frustrating to work with, they were somehow endearing to me. They taught me much of the similarities sheep have with human nature. It might be too strongly worded to say that Dad hated them, but sheep were certainly not his favorite animal. But for some reason, to this day, I have fond memories when it comes to working with them for a few years. There was something in me that was a bit of a shepherd. I think there might be some of that remaining in me to this day, in the kind of heart I have toward people. Perhaps there is just something a little askew with us mental health worker types, I don’t know. Am not sure I have anything profound to write today, but this photo took me back a long ways, and stirred all kinds of memories this morning. I am truly grateful for this man called Norm, my father. And for his wife and my mother, Jo. We have much in common. We have our individual differences. They have taught me invaluable things with both words and actions. As Donald Miller writes in Scary Close, “Children learn what’s worth living for and what’s worth dying for by the stories they watch us live.” I have learned such things in watching them live. Happy Birthday, Dad.