My blog’s new name, when I eventually get to changing it, will be Stuff I Find Interesting (SIFI).
Today I’m using the same acronym but this time it means Someone I Find Inspiring.
Today is my dad’s 89th birthday.
Lewis Aase is a big reason for what both my brother Mark and I are today.
Along with our mom, LaVonne, Dad embodies love as described in 1 Corinthians 13: he’s patient, kind, long-suffering and isn’t envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or resentful.
Probably most importantly, he’s always been a big believer in us and has supported us in exploring and developing our strengths and interests.
And sometimes even when they weren’t really strengths, he still encouraged us to try. For example, I remember Dad telling me maybe I would be good at longer distance running. Looking back, that was probably a nice way of saying I wasn’t a fast sprinter.
Which, of course, was true.
When we were young, Dad regularly took us to different high school sporting events, so we could see what interested us.
He and Mom also gave us plenty of unstructured play time with the neighbor kids, too. I guess it was a different time, but I think that’s something lots of kids miss today, as Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff have noted.
Dad has shown us the value of persistence and consistency. He and Mom moved to Austin, Minn. 55 years ago, and they’ve just faithfully lived and served together.
I don’t remember him ever missing one of my junior high or high school basketball games, home or away. I’m sure he and Mom made all of Mark’s football games, too.
Mark and I have each gone through rough patches in our lives, and Dad and Mom were always there to support us. Not in a way that kept us from developing our own strength by working through the issues, but one that helped to look out for those who were depending on us.
Dad has taught us so much.
He’s great at just figuring out how to fix things around the house. Mark got all of that practical home repair interest and ability; it’s just not my gift. My expression of Dad’s inventiveness was directed more to creative use of computers and digital tools.
In his working years, Dad was an elementary school principal, and he never let “the way things are” keep him from exploring what could be, especially if it would make life better for kids.
- He invented creative ways to help those who were struggling to have longer to catch up without the social stigma of being “held back.”
- He led, with some like-minded conspirators, creation of the Math Masters program, a team-based math competition for 5th and 6th grade students in Minnesota, which has spread throughout the state and been sustained for more than 25 years.
- After he retired, he continued his service as a member of the Austin school board.
I have fond memories of going with him to his school on Saturday mornings, where he would work in the office catching up on paperwork, while I got to shoot baskets in the gym.
In addition to serving through his work, Dad also has been active in the church and community. He’s been on the advisory board of the Salvation Army and served Meals on Wheels until a broken hip last year caused his retirement.
When I got the crazy idea to run for state representative at age 21, Dad and Mom were totally supportive. He led the lawn sign campaign. They’ve stayed active as political volunteers for 35 years.
Mark and I have been blessed that we could raise our kids in our hometown, and that they could grow up near our parents. As they did when we were in school, Mom and Dad made almost every one of their grandchildren’s sporting events, concerts or plays.
Now they’re attending activities of their great-grandchildren.
As he is turning 89 today, Dad isn’t quite as physically agile as he once was, but he’s mentally sharp and engaged as ever.
And that’s why I still find him inspiring.
He’s a big part of the reason why, at age 56, I’m going back to school to get an MBA. Realizing how much he has contributed in even just the last 32 years, I feel I should be hitting the accelerator, not the clutch.
None of us knows how long we have to live, but we should make the most of the time we’re given.
That’s also why I’m intensely interested in learning what I can do to make my remaining years as healthy and vital as Dad’s have been.
I’ll return to that story tomorrow.
Happy Birthday, Dad!