Happy Birthday, Sam

Sam JimToday 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.

Sam Brick

Sam Brick wide shot

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.

Sam and Jim BallingWe 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,


7 Responses to Happy Birthday, Sam

  1. clara ost says:

    I remember the exciting day Sam was born. We had prayed for him and God had graciously given us our desire. It seemed like he learned everything fast: to walk, to talk: to memorize and he kept the fast speed as he grew older and still managed to do it well. He brought us so much joy – my “take charge” first born. His decision to fellow Christ made while a child never wavered. His trust in God was unshakable. I remember the late night board games with the “guys”. Sam loved life. He was the first to dive off the cliff into the cold Rio Frio. The first to climb a mountain.
    And Sam is the first of our children to enjoy heaven.

    I live in the house that Sam helped to build 25 years ago. And I am comforted that I’m just a pilgrim, too. Soon we’ll all be Home. I love you Sam . Happy Birthday. Mom


  2. Jim Ditton says:

    I miss Sam, I miss John, I miss you Clara, I miss you Jim.

    Sam had such a loving smile, such a gentle soul, I miss him, yeah I miss Sam. I, of course remember the just great basketball games. We all played so hard, it was some of the best fun I have ever had. I will be happy for John and Sam to welcome me to heaven.

  3. Carl says:

    Hi all,

    I wrote the post below this morning, and during the day was remembering other things. A few years ago we began working with Lutheran Social Services toward a domestic adoption. Sam would always ask when we would get our Lutheran baby, and always got a chuckle out of me.

    I was also remembering how Sam mocked some of my early attempts at speaking Spanish. One summer (1982?) I was at the Iglesia Biblica in McAllen and the phone rang (Rob was pastor). I could only say a few words in Spanish and I have no idea what I actually said, but for years Sam would imitate me by saying haltingly with a funny accent, “You want talk Rob?” And then burst into laughter. I can still hear him saying it.

    Today would have been Sam’s 45th birthday – easy for me to remember since we were born in the same year (well, not that I remember it from that year…).

    First – Aunt Clara, Linda, Joel, Nathan, Jim, Deb and Steph, that we think of you often and love you. And that especially today we are thinking of you and praying for you.

    While I had cousins who lived no more than two miles from me, who I saw at church and at school and on the farm many days each week, I never felt close to them. But I felt quite close to Sam who lived on the other side of the country! I have such great memories of Sam coming to stay on the farm – don’t know how many times – and us riding bikes together, playing army and just goofing around. Or times we’d see each other at the CFU conferences this time of year in Minneapolis. Then later when I was older and began visiting So. Texas (and even later eventually lived there) there were yet more good times – starting out in Fellowship Acres. Sam was somewhat more adventurous than me, and I can remember a number of times him suggesting some activity and me saying (or at least thinking), “I don’t know about this Sam.” But always laughing about it whatever happened in the end. Laughing, laughing, laughing. I think I may have laughed more and harder with Sam than possibly any other person on earth. Sharing “Gulch” stories, playing our horns together, seeing who could come up with the wittiest responses as family gatherings. Great memories.

    And of course there are sad memories from later. It was hard to see him suffering, hard to talk to him on the phone when we moved up here, hard to visit him. I didn’t understand (and still don’t). And it still causes me sadness and it’s hard to remember that part of his life.

    But I am thankful for Sam and loved him, I’m thankful mostly that through it all he loved Jesus. I don’t know if it will ever make sense, but I know one day it will be completely all right. I wonder what adventures he’s getting himself into now?!

    Love, Carl

  4. Deborah Krueger says:

    today was very hard for me. I am missing Sam so much. I think that last year when Sam went to heaven, it was a big blur of emotions. It was such a terrible year–losing Dad and then Sam. .I did have the joy of Baby Joseph’s birth right in the middle of it all. So I think that this year I feel the ache and the sting of missing him a little more. Today some of us ate together and we had pecan pie and carrot cake (his two favorite desserts) in honor of his birthday. I tried to eat like Sam, but somehow I couldn’t force myself to down a serving bowl amount of raw spinach! I am thankful for all of the memories and the lessons learned along the way. I am so thankful to Linda too, who was such a faithful and true wife and who shouldered a very heavy burden at the end, and to this day. deb

  5. Jim Boscaljon says:

    As I saw the “Sam Ost’s Birthday” tag on my calendar yesterday, I was once again flooded with emotions and memories. The late night Rook games, popping popcorn in a popcorn maker that hadn’t been cleaned since the mid-70’s (we wanted to keep the aged flavor), working late nights in the computer lab, and many more. As Sam was declining the last few years, I remember getting letters, usually around my birthday, that would share with me how things were going. The letters would always come around to how good our God is, despite what was happening to him. More than anything else from Sam’s life, I learned the lesson that “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” and through it all, God is good. I miss you Sam! Linda, Joel, and Nathan, and the rest of the Ost’s, we think of you often.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Jim, thanks for posting the footage — all new to me. It was nice to see the clip from your wedding. (I had forgotten you guys rented a bus.) I missed so many of the bad years because of the distance, so part of me always remembers him playing his horn up in the front at church. But, it’s not good only to remember the ‘best’ times. I want to remember all of Sam, not just the hits. That’s another reason I love hearing stories about young Sam, and sick Sam, and sports Sam — because it was all one guy. The same threads wind themselves through each of the stories. Humor, Wit, Love, Kindness, Music, Worship, Fatherhood.. . the list could go on and on!

    One thing I remember about Sam was his smile. . infectious.

    Love to all my Ost rellies. Miss you (and him)!

    Also, Jim, do you typically write such great letters on the occasion of birthdays? Good letter. I’ll expect a similar one when I turn 30.


  7. nora montelongo says:

    Happy birthday Sam. Yo recuerdo a sam con una sonrisa y animando siempre,
    habia una palabra que siempre la recuerdo….””i-jo-le”” era super divertido y nos
    contaba algun chiste, y nos hacia reir, sabia bromear “super” lo recuerdo tambien
    cuando ayudaba a los jovenes, como se memorizaba los salmos, y de su actuacion
    en los dramas…Sam sabemos que estas super bien, con tu papa en los brazos de Jesus.
    no te olvidamos…..fam. montelongo.

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