Today is a special day.

It’s Tommy Caldwell’s birthday.

This is Tommy Caldwell and his beautiful wife Marilu.

Tommy and Marilu

I love them both. Very much.

Tommy and Marilu have been a part of my life since I was a young girl. They mean the world to me and I’m so grateful for the love and support they have given to me over the course of my life. Everyone needs champions in their corner and I am so grateful that they have been by my side through so many important life moments.

In honor of Tommy’s birthday, I wanted to tell you about this very special person and what he’s shown me, taught me and given me through the years. Enjoy getting to know him a little bit and join me celebrating his special day!

Tommy is an amazing example of a loving and devoted husband and father. From the time I was young, I can remember marveling at his relationship with Marilu. It’s always been so evident how much he loves her, how committed he is to her. They’ve been married for 63 years and he’s still crazy about her. 🙂 Watching him be Dad, Poppa and Poppa Tommy to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is a beautiful thing to see. I love to sit back and watch him during family gatherings. Whether it’s holding the latest addition to the great-grandbaby crew or listening to him catch-up with one of his grandsons or granddaughters or sharing a joke with one of his three children, one thing is clear — Tommy loves his family and his heart is most full when he his family around him.

About 10 years ago or so, Tommy and Marilu began to see me as an adopted daughter. I can’t tell you how much it means to hear them introduce me to people we meet as an adopted daughter. Tommy tells people that my mother left me to them in her will! I love being a part of his family because it means I get to enjoy the love he pours out to his entire family. He’s an amazing dad and I’m so glad all of his children are willing to share him with me!

Tommy is one of the most dedicated and committed people I know. This is especially true when it comes to serving God and his church. He’s one of the pillars of his church community and for years has been a leader on some of the most important committees at the church he has attended since his youth. Without even realizing it, Tommy has modeled for me what it looks like to serve with commitment. Now that I’m active in my own church, I realize that I watched him for years faithfully support his church family. It made quite an impact on me. I’m really grateful for that example.

No one tells stories like Tommy. He’s had an amazing life, full of rich, interesting experiences and life-long friends that have been a part of his and Marilu’s life journey. And from every step, there’s a great story or wonderful memory to share. Throw in Tommy’s wonderful sense of humor and I could listen to him for hours! And there have been times when I have! There was a day many years ago when my mother was going through a very long surgery that Tommy sat with my sister and me in a hospital waiting room, telling us stories for hours. He kept us entertained and distracted while we waited for my mother. It was one of many times that he did that for us while we worked through my her illness. It was such a gift of love to us. We never would have made it through some of those long hours of waiting and worrying without him. Thank you, Tommy!

Now, there a few “fun facts” about Tommy you might be interested in knowing about:

• He loves to garden and has an amazing yard filled with roses, orchids and all kinds of other flowers and fruit trees. His front yard is so beautiful, it’s the envy of more than a few of his neighbors
• Whenever he goes out to a restaurant and the waiter leaves a stack of paper napkins or if there are paper napkins left over after a fast-food meal, he takes them home with him. It could be said he collects paper napkins…members of the family have given him packages of paper napkins as gifts!
• For the last 30+ years, at Christmas celebrations, Tommy has worn these grey slacks with embroidered holly leaves on them. It’s hard to say what’s holding the pants together after all these years, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without Tommy in those pants 🙂
• He’s a faithful USC Trojan fan…and a Dodger fan…and a Laker fan…and an Alhambra High School Moors fan. Tommy went to Alhambra High. I went to a rival school, Mark Keppel High School. When I was in high school, Tommy (and Marilu) came to Mark Keppel High homecoming football games just to support what I was doing with the half-time show. Now that’s love!

Isn’t he amazing?

Tommy, you have blessed my life in ways you can never imagine. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend and dad to me. You have helped shape me in to the person I am. You have been one of my greatest cheerleaders. Today, on your special day, I’m cheering for you and thanking the Lord for the gift that you have been to me. Happy Birthday!

With lots of love,