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Saturday, February 20, 2010

To My Father On His 60th Birthday

It was my father's 60th birthday this week and the family thew a surprise party for him on Friday. Since I am a busy reporter in Boston and a touch light in the wallet I could not make the trip to Virginia to attend. I was commissioned to write a note to be read aloud to the guests and this is what I cam up with. The picture on the left is my father in his mid-20s.
I always thought I would end up looking like Grizzly Adams.

This is not to say that I was afraid of the notion. No. I used to see the pictures of my father with long, luscious hair and a great beard tromping through a field of high grass and imagined, one day, I would do the same. Perhaps with a couple kids strapped to my back as I ascended a large rock face on my way to a comfortable nook of a great river. I would cook freshly caught fish on a flat river stone heated by a large campfire and tell stories as the embers grew low.

Well, that is never going to happen.

I cook fish, I don’t eat fish. I have no children of my own. I fond of the wild but by no means an outdoorsman. I know that I am supposed to call it a fly rod, as opposed to a pole, but only have the rudimentary knowledge of how the damned thing is supposed to work. I never became Grizzly Adams.

And that is fine.

The beauty of my father is that he always told us to do whatever we wanted to do and supported us every step of the way. I was a rogue chef for years and he would frown at my misadventures but always trusted that, one day, I would right my ship. With our mother by his side the four of us have had great familial strength to launch ourselves in the directions we saw fit, to cultivate our success because we knew we could do anything with them behind us. No four people could have been given greater parents than ours and for that we are truly blessed.

The Grizzly Adams version of James Rowinski is long gone but that does not mean the same strength of spirit has left as well. At 60, our father is as strong, virile and passionate as any time that we have ever seen. He continues to push for his dreams, his ideals and offers the support of his love to the entire family. The rest of us follow the example he has set and, with him, we flourish. It is the way it has always been and the way it will always be.

So, father, in front of those you love and cherish I wish you the fondest of birthdays. May your heart guide us for 60 more.

With love. Your son,