The apple never falls far from the tree, the saying goes. Over the years I have had a growing realization that I’m like my father in more ways than I could imagine. Sometimes my wife points them out, but that’s usually not necessary. Like most teenagers, it came as a shock at first, but with time I have come to embrace this as a fact of life; a fact to cherish instead of avoid. So today on my dad’s 60th birthday I can unequivocally say that I’m proud to be his son. Happy Birthday, Dad!
My father has been many things to many people, and through the course of those years he has probably influenced more people than most will ever do. Dr. Paul Petersen, the professor, pastor, teacher, church administrator, writer, translator, musician, chess player, and what have you, is also husband, granddad, and dad. To me, he is obviously primarily the latter. But the sum is greater than its parts, and in many ways my father’s calling and choices have contributed to the person I am today.
His calling as a pastor has been the driving force in his life and in ours as a family. The church that we both love (for good and bad) is also a part of my life. While I did not become a theologian, I did inherit at least some of his passion for the Bible, and also his interest in academic pursuits – not only in theology, but also an interest in history and philosophy. This has given us many interesting conversations in my adult years.
The church was also the ultimate reason for all the travels. With childhood years in the U.S., many movings within Denmark, and later a second home in Australia, I too have become ‘restless’ – or perhaps adaptable is a better word. I learned English, and got a wider perspective on the world that would have been different had I just stayed put like many others.
I can probably also thank my father for the passion for books, language, and writing that we both share. Along with the international outlook and English skills, this has contributed directly to my current job as in-house journalist for a large international company. I am good for this job in large part due to my heritage.
In many other things I can see a direct link to my father. He set an early example of running which has been a great inspiration, even though it’s only in recent years that I’ve really come to take it seriously. Music has played a large part in my life due to the stimulation from home. Singing, playing, writing music, and even translating hymns are all avenues where I have followed his lead.
We’re not identical, of course. I don’t quite share my father’s passion for soccer or harness racing, for example. And conversely, my passion for cooking and my right-leaning political propensities are not something that I can attribute to his influence. But all in all, I guess I am quite my father’s son (and my mom’s, but it’s not about you today). This is who I am, and how you shaped me. I wouldn’t be too ashamed, if I were you, Dad. I think you did a really good job.