These birthdays come relentlessly now and nothing seems to slow them down. I haven’t figured what to do with last year’s gifts before the new presents are ready to be unwrapped. Nevertheless, I still enjoy these annual celebrations, perhaps because I don’t like the alternative and perhaps because I still have a little kid inside me.
At the end of this delightful Fall day, with cooler temperatures, no gnats and a brilliant blue sky, I have been thinking a bit about my birthday and some of the highlights of this year and of years past.
With September 13th falling on Sunday this year, I got to play “Happy Birthday” to myself. Our church recognizes the upcoming birthdays of our members each week. If your birthday actually falls on Sunday, the congregation sings you “Happy Birthday”. However, my birthday has only fallen on Sunday five times in the 33 years I have been the organist. This year I got to play for myself, which is actually pretty cool.
Each year, I get a call or a visit from my mother, who never forgets when her firstborn came into this world. Now, I also get a Facebook posting from her as well. At 83, my mother is still cool enough to use social media with the best of them.
Speaking of Facebook, it makes me feel good to see the many people that sent me birthday greetings today. Granted, Facebook reminds them all that today is my birthday, but still, they took the time to send a note. I read every one of them.
I realized these birthday wishes spanned my 61 years on Earth. Some were from my parents’ friends, who saw me come into this world. There were some from my early childhood years at elementary school in Cottonwood. Those were followed by friends I met at Girard Jr. High School and then Dothan High School.
Auburn was next, with friends made in my fraternity pledge class and other brothers at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I heard from many who I haven’t actually seen in decades.
The next friends came from my work life, first in the peanut business and then Hardee’s and the newspaper. Friends from before my marriage and then friends made in the 37 years since Mary Lou and I said “I do” sent greetings. Church friends and political friends were on the list, though I am not sure political correctness allows them to be co-mingled.
Then there were the most special birthday wishes of all, from my family. The day started with Mary Lou fixing me breakfast, just the way I like it, even though she likes her eggs much more done. There were visits during the weekend with my children and their spouses, and of course their biggest gift to me, my grandchildren. Even my dog, Harry, seemed especially attentive to me.
I heard from family and friends from the generation before me and several generations after me. I don’t mistake a quick note on Facebook for a two page handwritten note. However, I am thankful that for one brief second, I was remembered by so many who have a connection to my past.
I am not prone to quoting Hubert Humphrey, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”
So, thanks to all, far and wide, that wished me well today. Thanks for your connection in my life’s journey along the way, whenever and wherever that might have been. Most of all, thanks for being my friend.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org