Monday, January 20, 2014

4 letters for a 40 year old

As something special for Brendon's birthday I asked his mother, siblings and his friend from High school to write him letters. These are the lovely letters we got. I know the girls will want to be able to read them again in years to come, so its nice to have them recorded here.

From his mother:
Dearest Brendon
Hard to believe that you are 40, time sure does fly, and before it flies by much further I just want to say a few words.
You know we are all very quick to let someone know if we don't like or agree with them, but on the other hand we expect people to just know that we like them and appreciate them.
Life is so short and is over before you know it, so, before I depart from this world into the next, I want you to know how much I admire you. You are one of the most dependable, trustworthy, honest and fair people I know.
I can't go back over all the years and pick out specific times you made us proud (soccer, athletics etc) but Dad and I often used to say how proud we were that we had 'abnormal' teenagers. None of you were into drugs, weekend parties and misbehaviour.
What does stand out in my mind I when you insisted on coming home when Dad passed. I will never forget, when you got out the car in the garage, the first thing you said to me was 'What can I do for you Mom'.
Just having you here, helping me go through Dad's clothes, helping in the garden, and the surprise when we found 'treasure' in the box hidden in the garage, spending hours shopping trying to find the right gifts, helped me keep perspective, and I was able to cope, and for that I can never thank you enough.
I am truly blessed to have three of the most wonderful children.
Love you.

And at the end of the card she sent it said:
The one question a son never asks is "May I have your heart?" - because you see, he's always owned it!
I love you, son, beyond your knowing.

From his sister Joan:
Hi Brendon
Wow, I cannot believe that you are 40 already!! And what a lot to show for it.  5 beautiful children, a loving and supportive wife and a lifestyle which I think any of us would love to live.
Mom always said that you were a blessing to her and kept her young. I think she enjoyed the time with you especially as she was older when she had you, and did not worry about unnecessary things, as one does with the first child. I think you were a blessing to all of us.
It is difficult for me to remember a lot of when you were a baby, I think it was because I was also young and busy with my own life, and because of the age gap, we didn’t really play together, but I do remember a couple of incidents, such as, what a beautiful baby you were, and how I convinced Mom to enter you into the baby competition at Barclays Square, and you won.  I also remember that suitcase of matchbox cars which you had, and I use to play with you in the sand, under one of the trees in the garden.  
Of how well you did at sports during your school career and always tried to emulate your older brother, when in fact you didn’t need to, as your own achievements spoke for themselves.
Of course there is always that funny incident at Christmas, when you were older, and you were saying grace one Christmas, and Michael thought you were talking much too long for his liking, and interrupted you with an “Amen” when you weren’t quite finished.
But having said all that, I think your greatest achievement is the father and husband which you have turned into.  You remind me a lot of Dad as a father to us, and I know he was always very proud of you, and is smiling down from above, at how well you have done for yourself.
Hope you have a stunning 40th and the next 40 will be just as blessed as the first.
Love you lots
Joan and Dave


From his brother Trevor:
Hi Brendon,
Happy 40th birthday!!! Welcome to the club J.
I’ll be leaving the club in June next year and joining Joan’s club L
Belinda asked us to write some words pertaining to memories of when you were born/young and I must admit, to remember something 40 years ago is nigh impossible for me. Belinda you might not appreciate this now, but wait until you’re my age and see how well you do.
I remember a few snippets of when you were young and I think if I were to look at old photo’s Mom might have kept, a lot more would come back to me. It’s Thursday afternoon at the moment and I unfortunately won’t be seeing Mom before your birthday so I guess that idea is out the window.
Instead of remembering moments of your life, I thought I would reflect (and this isn’t the first time I’ve reflected on it) on our lives as brothers. I often wonder how different our lives would have been if we weren’t 9 years apart and were only 2 years apart as Joan and I are. I mean we hadn’t really bonded when you were small. I was a teenager trying to deal with life’s teenager complexities and you were a kid of around 5 or 6 running around carefree causing chaos between Joan and David (which I must say, I did enjoy). I did however enjoy watching you develop your soccer talents when you were in Primary school at Sunnyside and I was proud of your achievements on the athletics track, but even at that age I could tell you and I had very different temperaments. I think you take more after Mom in that regard.
I went to the army and when you started High School I was already overseas. I thought about you often when I was in the US and I remember when I was returning to South Africa, I was looking forward to getting together with you to bond over a beer, or whatever and get know each other better. This never happened unfortunately as our lives had taken two very different paths and there never seemed to be any real connection to them. We never saw you much when you were in Pietersburg and then you guys left to live in NZ.
The path you’ve followed has been good to you however and I often envy the stability you’ve created for yourself and your family. You have a wonderful family which is testament to your and Belinda’s dedication, faith and perseverance. My marriage only lasted 5 years, but considering who I was married to, 5 years is quite an achievement.
I believe if our age difference was closer when we were young, our relationship would have been very different and our lives growing up would probably have taken very different paths to the ones we find ourselves on today. And if that were so I would have a lot memories I could reflect on and mention in this letter.
Anyway, I hope you have a great birthday boet and I do feel we should start communicating more going forward.
Love to all  

And from Ryan - his high school friend and his best man at our wedding:
Forty Words for a Friend
Intimidated – this is the first word that comes to mind. Why this one? Because when I think back to the first time I heard Brendon’s name it was in the context of the Northern Transvaal soccer trials. I was ten years old and had only started playing goalkeeper for Brooklyn School three months before. On my way to Berea, where the trials were being held, I was told that the guy who stood between me and the keeper position was Brendon Buckland. He was really good and, as a result, I was scared.
As you no doubt remember, Bucks, it was me who made the team as goalkeeper that year– not you! That’s what leads to the second and third words – Gracious (2) and Skilful (3). As I would find out many years later, the selectors of that team had asked Brendon to consider playing another position – not goalkeeper. That way, we could both make the side. Brendon kindly agreed. As it turned out he was as good an outfield player as he was in the cage, which is one of the many reasons why skilful is such a good word to describe him.
It’s probably appropriate, at this point, that I include the word agile (4). I was at one of Brendon’s mini-world cup games at Callies where I saw him make one of the best saves ever. I forget who either of us was playing for, but I was sitting on the bench watching when a cracking shot flew off the boot of one of the strikers and looked to be heading into the top of the goal when Brendon, with reflexes like a cat, leapt into the air to push the ball over the bar. It was something special! It’s a picture I have etched in my mind and something, I have no doubt, you too can remember clearly.
Hairy – that’s got to be number five. I recall Michael Morgan teasing you about your rug from around standard seven. In PT or before practice or a game Mike used to shout out, “Okay, okay, gather round, check the hairy chest out!” Then we would all try to harvest a few of Brendon’s admirable chest hairs. I don’t know that we ever succeeded but I know for sure that we were all on the receiving end of some smart comment from Brendon’s mouth. That’s where number six comes in – Chirpy.
Brendon had (probably still has) a sharp tongue. I know that, despite being progressively tamed over the years, his mouth was a fountain of funny comments. These were especially well known by the officials of our football matches. You no doubt remember, Bucks, how, at the tender age of 12, you lashed Robby Winterburn about his need for glasses.  It was a chirp that my dad still enjoys to this day.
Still in keeping with our soccer days, our U16 tour to Cape Town in 1990 highlighted a few more things about you. Apart from being a good roommate (7), you were helpful (8) in other areas, and willing to share (9) your soccer expertise (10). Being in the same room with you that year was a good thing. Your focus (11) throughout the time and the calm (12) way in which you handled the pressure of that week set the tone for how we both played. I’m not sure you’ll even remember this but, in the weeks leading up to the tournament, I had serious doubts over my game. I felt unsure of everything and just seemed to have lost any sense of what I should be doing on the field. The problem was evident to pretty much everybody, our coach, Steve, and manager, Bob, too. As a result, just before we left for the tournament, they covered themselves and called Apollo in as a backup. I knew that my position was on the line and that anything shaky on my part would have me warming the bench. It was all really uncomfortable. Anyway, it was the day before our first game, and you and I went out to a grassy area on the campus. There you kicked a few balls at me, allowed me to try out my new gloves for the first time, and gave me some pointers. All these things were key contributors to one of my best weeks of soccer, ever. As I think back, I don’t think I ever really thanked you properly for what you did. I guess now’s my opportunity – thanks Bucks!
As I shift my thoughts from soccer to another of the sports you were so good at – running – I’ll let you in on another little thing you may not know. There was a brief moment in my life when I actually thought I could run faster than you! Crazy, I know! Anyway, I think we were in standard 8 or 9 when I started running around the block our house in Brooklyn was on. After a few weeks, I thought I had improved enough to compete with you, the best 800m runner in our age group (and probably older age groups, too). I knew you were fast (13) but I felt pretty quick running on my own. Thankfully, before I had the opportunity to make a total fool of myself on the athletics track, you came over to our house one afternoon and we went for a run. That was enough to bring me back from Mars and remind me that I was no athlete. You were the champion (14) of the track.
Over the years I have come to believe that all success is the result of a few good decisions and a lot of perseverance. Just about anybody can make the few good decisions, very few, however, have the willpower (15) to keep pushing. That’s something you’ve got! Man, I know you can push yourself. I remember standing close to the finish line at one of the inter-clan athletics days were you crossed the finish line of one of your races, only to collapse from sheer exhaustion. You had pushed yourself so hard that you couldn’t even stand. For a while you didn’t even know where you were, but as I recall, you recovered and went on to run again. Either way, if that was your last run that day or not, your passion (16) and commitment (17) to giving your best in every sport you took part in was evident to your team mates and opponents alike. As far back as I can remember and in so many different areas of life – as a footballer, a runner, a husband (18), a father (19), a student (20), a worker, a preacher (21), and a farmer (22) – you have shown yourself to be gutsy (23) and dedicated (24). Oh, for more people with your ability to exercise self-control in important things. 
On that note of important things, it’s time for me to shift gears and think about you as a man of God (25). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember it being in April 1992 that you and I attended a talk on Satanism at the Glen Methodist church. It was a Saturday night – a night in which the courses of both of our lives would change forever. That was when that Jesus Christ became our Lord, and we became young men with real purpose (26). I also remember the night, out in the parking lot of that same church, that you told me you were going into the ministry. You had a passion (27) for the King, which led to a rapid increase in the knowledge (28) of His word and a solid grasp of good theology. That was something that encouraged me and often helped me out.  Knowing that you were more clued up about the Bible than me, it was easy for me to lean on you for textual support in discussions I used to have with other people. One such time that stands out was when I disagreed with the guy leading the Bible study I was going to. He was saying that it was possible for a Christian to lose salvation. You were the guy I called on for a whole list of verses that clearly showed that once saved, always saved. Thankfully, and by God’s Grace, you were solid (29) right from the beginning. Praise God for that.  
As I sit and think about it, it was after you got saved that two sides of you became most visible; your sense of humour (30) and your sense of seriousness (31), side by side. I really hope that, on this your fortieth birthday, you are still the man who can joke and laugh (32), and still be firm (33), faithful (34), and to the point (35) when the moment demands it. I guess this is how I best remember you. A man quick with a joke, sincerely serious, and deeply committed (36) to the people and tasks at hand; good at what you do, no longer after personal glory, a man dedicated (37) to tirelessly providing for his family. What a joy to think of you like this.
The last time we saw each other was at Belinda’s parent’s house. There and in the car, and at the chiropractor we had time to reflect on life. It was then that I was reminded of how far the Lord had brought us since our early days of friendship (38). I am still, as I was then, mindful of how similar we’ve always been.  I know that, apart from the work of our God in our lives, you and I would have ended up as total wrecks – gorged on the pursuits of fame and fortune and great self-glorification. Oh, for our precious saviour – you and I walk a different road!
Brendon, I am thankful for your life – thankful to God for your fortieth birthday, and thankful that I can say with confidence He will continue and complete the work He began in you over twenty years ago. I’m not entirely sure why this keeps popping up in my mind, but I feel the urge to want to spur you on to greater joy in Him and the family He has blessed you with. Enjoy (39) your fortieth Birthday – even though it is simply another day. Remember, whether you eat, drink, or blessedly turn forty – do all to the Glory of God.
I miss you my friend – even though we are far apart. Thankfully, heaven (40) awaits, and I look forward to seeing you there. Who knows, in my glorified body I might be able to beat you round the blockJ!

20th January 2014


1 comment:

Jacqui said...

Absolutely stunning letters! What a man!