Today was amazing. I am in my hometown; Lunenburg, Massachusetts. Last night I parked the van and flew out of El Paso and into Boston. I arrived at 1:00AM this morning. (Thanks for picking me up, Gerald!) This morning I woke up in Cambridge, MA and headed to Lunenburg, where my parents live. My dad turned 60 recently and we organized a massive surprise party for him. My oldest brother, Tom, flew in from Taiwan; my sister flew in from Thailand; and I flew in from Texas, to surprise my dad.
My mom did an amazing job putting the party together. My aunts and uncle all flew in for the party as well. My dad was taken aback when he showed up at what he thought was someone else’s birthday party, only to find that the party was for him. He was thrilled to see his friends, brother, and sisters. About 30 seconds after the initial surprise, my brother, my sister, and I, came through the door to deliver the secondary surprise. He was stunned. I will never forget the look on his face when he saw us. It was a mixture of joy and shock that made his jaw drop.
It was awesome to spend the day with my family. What a blast! I’m so happy I was able to come home for my dad’s big 60th birthday. As I travel around the country, interviewing folks, I have a set of questions that I always ask. The last question of each and every interview is, “Who is your hero or role model?” My answer to that question is unequivocally, “my dad.” He is the most amazing person in my life. He is kind, gentle, caring, passionate, smart, political, courageous, adventuresome, open-minded, and understanding. He has been my strongest advocate since day one.
My dad taught me that every person deserves to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. The values I learned from him, from watching the way he lives his life and treats others, have shaped me into someone who stands up for the little guy, reaches his hand out to those in need, and points out a wrong when he sees it. I learned this from my dad.
My dad once wrote to me: “Being progressive, you will always be ahead of society. You will have a lifetime of being disappointed because you can see things so clearly and it is hard to understand why others cannot see what you see. It is hard to do…but you must just keep working towards your goals…slowly as it is. Progress is made over time…ever so slowly. Sometimes it may seem that we are going backwards…but times do change. The secret is not to give up; not to ‘accept’ what is happening around you; not to become cynical; keep a positive attitude; keep your goals in focus and in whatever small or large role you play to keep pressing forward.”
He talks about being a positive force in the world. He makes it a point to smile at everyone because a smile can brighten someone’s day, make them feel better, encourage them to smile at others, change people’s attitudes, and, in some small way, change the world.
Dad: I love you so much. You are my hero and my role model.
Tonight I am sleeping in Luenenburg, MA. Tomorrow I fly out of Boston and back to Texas. I’ll jump back in the van and continue the journey.