He's always been himself: crazy, laughing, generous, extroverted, loving to be the center of attention. He's been the same person, from the time he was a little grinning boy with a blond curl on his head stomping around in wooden shoes, to now as an Opa who rolls around the floor, playing with the little ones. To be honest, there was a time when my sister and I used to be terribly embarrassed by his loud laugh and goofiness. In fact, when we were in high school and we took a trip to Hawaii, we tried to not walk down the sidewalk with him. He was wearing a shark tooth hat, bright shorts and sunglasses that he got from Burger King and we were mortified. But somewhere along the road, we clued into what all the people around us already knew....that our dad is wonderful. He is engaging and warm and always has time for people. As loud as some of his goofing around has been, we've also seen him quietly care for people who need a lunch out, a listening ear or something taken care of. He has modeled to me what it means to love wholeheartedly, to have a strong faith, to forgive and to believe the best in people. Those are big things.
Beyond loving my mum, us and our husbands, seeing him love our kids has reminded us of how he's always loved us....with all his heart...and it's a big one.
We wanted to give him a great big party for his 70th because he's a great big party sort of guy. My sister opened her beautiful home and we had a full and happy and noisy afternoon filled with family and friends. We laughed a lot. We cried, because my dad is a big emotional mess at times and we were happy to celebrate him.
Here he is with his precious grandkids, who made him some huge cards...which of course, he loved.
Kelly and my mum had a huge spread and Neil offered to hand out drinks during the party.
Two Tymens. My cousin Tymen always makes my little Tymen feel special and my little guy loves it.
Cousins, old friends...for a while you had to shout to be heard.
Then I rounded up everyone for a presentation. Jasper warmed up the crowd with a few jokes from his jokebook and the crowd roared, making my little boy feel like a million bucks.
Then we did a "Seventy Years Sensory Test". We blindfolded him and tested him on a variety of stimuli that had a Dutch theme.
Smell: pickled herring
Taste: biscuit met hagel slag
Feel: his Dutch cap from his wooden shoe dancing days and some little shoes.
Hearing: the party goers sang the Dutch birthday song.
He was loving the attention.
For the sense of sight, we had him read this message. His reaction was priceless.
In the spring of 2014, Kelly and I will cover the tickets for you and mum so that the four of us can go back to the motherland to see where it all began! Pofferjes, herring, trams, canals, kitchen tables, croquettes on the street! We'll see it all....as the Kasteels! You are the best dad we ever could have had!
It's something we've talked about off and on for years but Kelly and I were busy having babies. Now we have a plan. It's going to be a trip of a lifetime!
(Thanks, Neil, for the great pic!)
I think seventy looks pretty good on him. He's still the same guy as he was when he was twenty....always messing around.
Happy 70th, Dad.