Courage, as against foolhardiness, is a rare endowment in human beings. The fortitude with which a person confronts life’s adversities is a mark of spectacular feat. Surmounting these challenges and turning the lessons of a bitter, near-fatal experience to an advantage of immense benefits for humanity is the most sublime of all engagements. That the triumph becomes a perennial reason for service inspires.

Combining modesty, honesty and an uncommon, unfailing mental acuity is special evidence of a life shaped with discipline, focus and divine munificence. Only a few mortals enjoy this grace till old age. A fewer number still view living as an art which must be appreciated with creative essence.

My Adorable Betty, I have always counted myself lucky since our paths crossed over four decades ago. I could not have asked for a better partner. I live with no regrets, whatsoever. Having a friend, wife, confidant, unsparing critic and supporter, loving mother of our children, Fond ‘Gran’ of our grandchildren all rolled into a personality, has been an exceptional blessing to me. And so, blessed am I among lucky men. I cannot ask for more.

As you take steady and confident steps towards the attainment of the Platinum next year, in less than 365 days from today, I fervently pray that you continue, in good health, to impact on the society, positively. The girl-child has an unyielding and vociferous advocate in you. Women, especially widows, rely on your tremendous inputs to make life meaningful. Those afflicted with the scourge of cancer see in you a courageous exemplar, enabler, who wrestled the menace to a standstill.

The defeat of this monster has been resounding in the last twenty-five years. This feat and your ceaseless advocacy for gender representation based on equity and justice have attracted global accolades, and deservedly so. That you remain strong and healthy is not a product of mere wishful thinking. Rigorous adherence to principles of healthy living, modesty, honesty and an effacing yet audacious disposition to existential issues are the ingredients which have molded these pristine qualities into an inspiring entity which you have become among your numerous admirers. Even your adversaries acknowledge your relentless and indomitable spirit.

I celebrate you, my Adorable Betty, at 69. I will join you in the particular strides in the days ahead on a march to an assured destination. We shall have a greater cause to celebrate when you will be 70 years young next year.

Congratulations, Darlin’ me.

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