Fifty years ago, a little baby boy was born to Victor and Margaret Hillery. It was a very quick delivery. No problems. shortly after arriving to the hospital on a Saturday afternoon, out popped little Philip. He was the first and only child. He grew up making people laugh. At least most people! Maybe there were a few teachers in Catholic elementary school who did not fully appreciate that sense of humor. And there may have been a few youthful pranks his parents did not greet with mirth.
Who would have thought that a Jersey boy who loved baseball, lacrosse and acting would end up at Roanoke College? He always loved the south and wished as a senior in highschool that he could have live on a farm in the south. Southern rock probably had something to do with that.
That famous sense of humor was one of the things that first drew me to Philip. Plus his love of art and books and travels. His love of God figured in there pretty high up on the priority list. His handsome Irish looks and sense of adventure, plus a very determined plan to woo me must have all worked, because a year and a half into our graduate work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, we were married, December 21, 1991. I always said I was in seminary to learn greek and theology, definitely not to marry a Baptist preacher boy. Sure enough, Philip was about as far from being a Baptist preacher boy as I was going to find!
Philip is and adventurer and we embarked on many adventures together. Japan, for two years, central Tx for a year or so, to do chaplain work and construction work, Fort Worth- to do chaplain work in prisons and renovate our old home. He is always willing to do whatever it takes for the sake of our family. Sometimes that meant getting up at 3am to go to work at UPS in the morning. Sometimes it meant throwing newspapers in the morning to supplement the job at Goodwill, helping teach and assist people who were down on their luck. Sometimes it meant going to marriage counseling so we could do our part to break the cycle of divorce in our family.
When Philip's mom needed care, he moved her to Texas so she wouldn't have to be alone. When his dad reached the end of his days, Philip was willing to go to New Jersey and let us nurse him in his last days so he wouldn't have to be alone.
I don't know many dads who have worked harder or longer to make their children and wife a nice home to live in. Don't know very many dads who have worked harder at making their children and wife laugh. Nobody I know could have made a better partner for me-Philip has encouraged me to be everything I want to be. He not only supports my dreams and visions, but he does what he can to help me accomplish them. He loves me. He thinks I am beautiful, even when covered in sweat, manure and staw. He is compassionate and thoughtful and helpful to the underdog. Generous. I don't know how many times he has helped someone in need in a situation where no one but God saw and took notice.
He is not perfect, thank goodness. He allows me to be imperfect, too. He even admits when he is wrong to me and the kids(at least most of the time!). Sometimes I wish he were a little more organized so there would be at least one person in the household who did not have to look for stuff. He probably wouldn't be nearly so merciful if he were...
Philip has been willing to learn how to kill chickens, milk a goat, skin a deer, not to mention learn how to communicate, love children and know when to take over so I can escape on a mental health day every once in awhile. He regularly prays for us and seeks to be wise.
I am so grateful that on May 10, 1958, God had a plan for Philip James Hillery to be born in Summit, NJ. And to get our paths to cross 33 years later. And to keep us together when at times no one thought we would make it. And to keep him alive during times of health crisis. Happy 50th Birthday, Philip. We love you and are so glad you were born.