In my card, I had written something different than the usual best wishes, thanking him for all the hard work he's done over the years to support our family, trying to make ends meet. I wrote that even though I am not the son that he might have wished, it didn't change anything, he's done well by me.
Here's my mother's e-mail to me reporting on my dad's receipt of my card. It is interesting (at least to me) to step back and read it objectively; my mother's cadence and use of language is very interesting. I can see my own style in hers.
My sister is going through a rough time right now and my dad has been very worried about her situation, which explains some of the dramatics.
Here is her e-mail, in a largely unedited form.
The birthday card you sent I put it on the table in the sala for your Dad to see this morning after he talked with [your brother] Peter over phone.
He was surprised when he saw the card, he seemed happy after reading. You wrote so well and touching.
I am glad you took the steps to heal after all that had happened. It had hurt him so much all these years, I have not wanted to talk about this with you before, although he always tried to show a sunny face when talking with you kids. I could see his agony, his struggle with his emotion. He had always felt so proud, because he thought he had provided us well. He started from scratch to provide us a financial well-to-do life, your grandfather, your uncle Q, his cousin uncle W all gave him nothing but debts to pay back.
He had his weaknesses, your paternal side of family had given him too many troubles, but he cared so much, and tried to help. They betrayed him, lied to him, but still he could not abandon them. On top of that, my too much unreciprocated love to my side of family caused resentment he felt towards them, there was also inferiority complex unconsciously hidden deep inside him too because of his humble background. He felt slighted when my relatives said or did something unintentionally, thinking they were looking down on him.
His voice broke when he talked with Peter [about your sister's] family. Father and I are both 65 years old now, no longer young, and the state of family we are in, I Pray God to have Mercy on us.
Take Good Care of yourself and Peter there.