The birthday balloons still hung in the air from my daughter's party when Craig answered my call.
I was wearing her birthday tiara. And presented to him a piece of toast with a candle on it. I wished him happy birthday, and he blew out the candle.
That’s how our story began. Although for Craig, it started 68 years ago in Merrick, a quiet town in Long Island, NY.
I would also find out that Craig used his height to play basketball. He spent six years playing professionally overseas in Uruguay, France, and in his father’s homeland of Sweden. I learned his father, who died when Craig was 14, left his country to make a new life in America. He abandoned his native language for a new one, and never went back or stayed in touch with his past. Craig used this time playing basketball in Sweden to reconnect with family. And to this day they remain close. His daughter is friends with her distant cousins.
To celebrate his birthday, Craig thought about doing a 68-mile bike ride. But decided to make it a 68-minute walk instead because he’d “like to live to see 69.” Like he mentioned to me, “With age comes wisdom…and humility.” To this day, he has only shot a crossbow once, “and that was at a target.”
Craig recently retired from a long career in education, which he always saw as his ministry. “I have never been bored.” Craig loves to ride his bike, workout with weights, and golf. Although he loves to spend most of his time outside, Craig also has a social media ministry; reaching people he knows and to those he does not know with messages of love and peace. His followers include former students whom Craig wants to give them another voice than that of what’s going on in the world.
In fact, he shared this beautiful thought with me (see photo) that continues to linger on my heart: “You will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love. Always be kind.”
To think, it’s his birthday and yet I am the one getting a gift.
Happy Birthday, Craig. I’m glad you were brought into this world on this day if only so that I could meet you and call you my friend.