Today would have been my brother’s 45th birthday, and boy, did he enjoy big birthday parties. Nothing made Sam happier than huge mobs of people playing games and laughing together.
In honor of his special day, I have put together some videos, a letter I wrote to Sam on his 30th birthday, and some photos of a tribute given in Sam’s name at Judson College. I hope he eats some “angel food cake” for me in Heaven.
Steph, Sam and Deb sing “1 John 4:7-8” at Sam and Linda’s wedding reception, 1988.
Sam jokes about Jim and Esther’s Wedding, 2002 (bonus footage of my “blog daddy”, Ruberad).
Sam and his boys, Joel and Nathan, star in Jim’s first video docudrama: Bathroom Boy
Judson College is finishing a big construction project (new library) and part of the project was an alumni circle. Alumni were able to buy bricks to put around a flagpole. Sam’s college buddies, Jim, Joe and Chris donated money and created this tribute to Sam.
LETTER TO MY BROTHER SAM
ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 30TH BIRTHDAY
November 14, 1992
A lot of things bring us together as brothers…
We share memories…the orange swing & the Nelson’s on Ware Road, the palm-date fights on the “efficiency apartment”, repelling out of trees, endless hours of “guns” with the Egles, hide-and-go-seek through the homemade hole in the “damp room”, the joy of burning massive piles of garbage in a variety of places, building of the ill-conceived “fort”, flying down the highway to youth meeting in the ’72 Lincoln, tramping through the brush of a wildlife refuge, and eating huge samplings of Gold Mine hamburgers on Saturday afternoons.
We share music…from “The Brave Little Tailor” Theme, to the Saint Paul Lutheran School Pipe Organ with Mr. Launer, to “My Grandfather’s Clock” A Capella, to “Cossack” & “I Didn’t Think It Could Be”, to opera music in the car on Saturday afternoons, to hundreds of hours of hymns, choruses, and worship in several languages, to jazz, funk, and years of jamming on the horns.
We share a passion for the game of basketball…years of play that began in the woods with a tetherball, a board nailed to an ash tree, and a dirt court…thousands of jump-shots, lay-ups, head-fakes, free-throws, fouls, angry howls of frustration and fury, gales of laughter and camaraderie…in every kind of environment — smooth tile, carpet, rubber, wood, asphalt, cement, dirt, and grass, and every kind of weather — hot, humid, windy, cold, raining, light, dark, dimly-lit, bright and sunny, temperature-controlled, icy, wet.
We also share blood…the blood of Vikings, the blood of champions, the blood of men who carved out a niche in a new land against incredible odds — Riveness blood and Ost blood –the blood of a people fiercely determined to fulfill a destiny, for themselves and for their seed…
But most important, we share the blood of the truest, and highest, and noblest champion who ever lived; the blood of the one who shares all of our memories: Who played with us and our crib toys as infants, Who hiked in the woods with us on Saturdays, Who laughed as we opened gifts on His special day, Who giggled with the family at the antics of “Frenchmahn”, Who smiled as we played ping-pong on a sloped table, Who watched and enjoyed our games of “dooby-ball” and romps up and down the stairs, Who joined in with gusto during our times of joy and worship, Who grinned with us as we “jammed our brains out” on the horns, Who sat in the woods and in the stands and applauded every leaning jump-shot and lay-up we ever attempted, whether we made them or not, Who stood and cheered when we graduated from high school and college, Who enthusiastically participated in every birthday, every Thanksgiving, every vacation, and every good time we ever shared, and Who stands just outside the perimeter of every family slide and snapshot.
We share the blood of the One who sat and cried with us when we learned of our sweet dog: Lady’s demise, Who stood by our beds and sang to us when we were sick and hurting, Who wept and mourned with us at the loss of Papa, Who was also sad when we pulled out of Fellowship Acres for the last time, Who held onto us in times of loneliness and separation, Who stood with us, saw our tears, and listened to the prayers and desperate calls for help of children for their father in the Urgent Care Ward of the Harlingen Hospital, Who watched over the shoulders of the surgeon in the operating room, rebuked the stink of death, and gave our father back to us.
We share the blood of Jesus: more than a brother, a father, or a friend. We share the blood that dripped down His head, His hands, His feet, His back, and His side, and down a jagged cross 2,000 years ago for no reason but to be a part of our family forever.
Same memories, same music, same basketball, and same blood…
I love you, Sam…
Happy 30th Birthday,