I held a beautifully wrapped package with a card resting on top. Excitement grew inside me as I stared at my birthday present from Luke and Caleb.
I unsealed the card’s envelope and scanned the card. The card said, “Happy Anniversary Birthday, Chole!”
I stared at my brothers. “Are you kidding me?”
I tossed the card aside and tore into the box. Carefully tucked in white tissue paper was…a full bag of worm bedding. Luke and Caleb erupted in laughter. Happy birthday to me.
Nine years later, I’ve forgiven Luke and Caleb for the birthday present, so I’m interviewing Caleb. However, he doesn’t like coffee, so we improvised and interviewed over cups of Bigelow tea: “Constant Comment” for Caleb and lemon ginger for me.
After our tea reached Caleb’s “perfect” temperature – a rolling boil – we sat down by my parents’ fireplace.
Caleb drank his tea and waited patiently. Caleb didn’t get angry when I asked him to do an interview right before he needed to leave; rather, Caleb cheerfully assured me he had time to help.
“I just don’t care, I guess,” Caleb said as an explanation for his constant positivity. His happiest moment was dancing to Powerline from “A Goofy Movie” with all his siblings at our brother’s wedding.
Even in negative situations, Caleb stays positive. When his femur snapped during an eighth-grade football game, he didn’t cry. He simply informed his coaches his leg was broken.
“Why even bother getting angry about things?” Caleb said and shrugged.
A few years later, we rushed Caleb to the hospital because he thought his appendix had burst. While I panicked in the waiting area, Caleb made eye contact with me from the bed he lay on waiting for an X-ray. He saw my worried expression and granted me a huge, ridiculous grin.
“It’s more fun to make people happy,” Caleb said. “And you’re going to need to drink that at some point.” He pointed at my tea (I was taking notes, but I paused for a drink of Bigelow).
Caleb is dedicated to being there for those he cares about. Despite his full workload with classes, work and upcoming graduation, Caleb is never too busy when he’s needed.
“I enjoy helping people,” Caleb said.
Last summer, Caleb drove from Madison to Avon almost every weekend to help our dad put up new siding on the house. He refinished our hardwood floor so Dad would have a break, helped install new windows, painted, and helped build the fireplace.
Caleb’s natural building ability aided these remodels. Caleb’s talent is showcased in a custom desk and desktop computer, both of which he built singlehandedly.
None of this building happens quickly. Caleb works to ensure his projects turn out perfectly and never loses his dedication.
“I have a lot of patience, I guess,” Caleb said. He paused for a drink, then said his patience likely comes from our parents. “Both have a very high tolerance, probably from raising nine kids.”
With a combination of patience and determination, Caleb maintains academic excellence and strong personal relationships. Caleb will graduate with honors on May 5 from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., after being on the dean’s list for every semester. His girlfriend of seven and a half years, Destinee, will be there to support him.
When he’s not searching for gag gifts for my upcoming birthday, Caleb spends his time completing majors in computer science and math for information systems. After his graduation, Caleb will transition from a part-time to full-time software engineer in the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LPDAAC) division of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at Eros Data Center.
In the one month until Caleb’s graduation and the time after, I’m certain Caleb will overcome any obstacles with an upbeat attitude.
“Getting mad or getting sad doesn’t change anything,” Caleb said. He finished his tea.
Thanks for always helping me find the bright side, Caleb.