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The Best Birthday Yet

I have often said that my next birthday is going to be the best.  Perhaps that is because it has largely been true during my life.  A person’s 59th birthday might not be a reason to broadcast it to the world.  In my case, it was one of the best.
Almost six decades after I was born, I had the opportunity to eat breakfast with my mother.  She had come down for her first visit with Great-Grandchild #3, namely Will Faulk.  Part of me likes to believe that she made the long trip to say Happy Birthday to her first born.
The rest of my extended family started heading to Auburn after noon.  No one wanted to be late to the family dinner scheduled for the 50 yard line at Jordan Hare Stadium.
No matter what the expectations, it exceeded them all.  We walked into the locker room which had already been set up for game day.  The names above the lockers were in glass and backlit. Heisman Trophies seemed everywhere.  Honestly, it was pretty impressive.
We walked out onto the field through the same tunnel that Auburn Tigers run onto the field every home game.  In this case, we were holding our new grandson, Will Faulk, who had his first picture at Auburn’s stadium in his Granny’s arms.  
Henry, my oldest grandson and a rabid FSU fan (thanks to my son-in-law), wore his #7 Seminole jersey onto Auburn’s sacred ground.  At least #7 belonged to a Ponder, namely Christian.
Laura, my only grand-daughter, wore her Auburn cheerleader outfit much like her mother had worn 20 years earlier.  Together, Henry and Laura ran up and down the manicured grass like the greatest athletes of Auburn’s storied past.
A superb Jazz Band combined with extraordinary food that wasn’t even available during my student years in Auburn made it even more memorable.  The Jumbotron, a massive television screen, streamed Happy Birthday Dan Ponder, to the delight of everyone in our party.
The highlight of my birthday wasn’t about eating on the football field.  In reality, our family’s two visits to Waffle House were just as rewarding.  
Seeing my grandchildren run and play throughout the Auburn campus took me back to the same time with their mothers.  It was magical then and it is magical now.
We visited the FanFest, an assortment of inflatable games that were not even invented during my time.  We also visited the tailgate of good friends from our hometown who also had grandchildren with boundless energy.
The icing on the cake was the incredible win by my beloved Tigers with only 10 seconds left in the game.  After 59 years, I can still lose my voice screaming for the defense to hold or for the offense to score.
I believe that every decade of my life has been better than the one before.  In this, the last birthday of my fifth decade, I can honestly say that it was one of the best.
Thanks to my wife, daughters, sons-in-law and of course, my grandchildren, for making this a special, special birthday.
Dan Ponder can be reached at

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