“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Hi everybody I am back and well. The health problems I had experienced last week are no longer around and I will be going back to my normal routine tomorrow.
The last four days were highlighted by a much appreciated birthday party at a local steak house that was organized and planned by my three children. Friends and relatives attended in what turned out to be a special night. After having lived a life spanning eight decades I anticipated having a good meal coupled with good fellowship and some birthday greetings, it was that and much more. My oldest daughter and her two sons had raided my wife’s albums and added some of their family pictures and made a video that had photos going back to my preschool days. What made it special for me were the pictures of the people who have been part of my life over the years, many who had almost faded from memory. It also chronicled the evolution of my family from the courtship of my wife through the years watching my children and grandchildren become the joy of our lives.
Afterwards the lingering memories of folks gone by started me thinking about how so many of us describe ourselves by our occupation and family status. You know, something like I am an engineer, I am married and have five kids. We may go on to talk about the tasks we are responsible for, we might say I am the supervisor of a team of people who repair bridges or the like. Our offering is purely a description of our function. I realized that I often thought of myself that way but this weekend I realized that the descriptions may set boundaries that prevent us from seeing who we really are. It is like having a two dimensional picture of ourselves on a big blank canvas.
This weekend my canvas started to fill with the people and events that provided my real life. The rich background was a dynamic representation with an ever changing landscape of the rewarding life I have lived. It was gratifying neither because of what I did, nor my titles our even my role as husband and father. It was because of the times spent with my children when they were little, the friends that were with me during my stint in the Navy, the thousands of moments shared with others during both good and bad times. In other words the good life was a gift from people like you, friends, relatives and even strangers who provide the real world I continue to grow in each day.
My only regret is that I did not look around often enough to tell you how much you are appreciated. I sometime felt I was too busy to see the smile of a tradesperson or to reach out a hand to a child. Maybe what is most important is that I did not let you know the regard have for you just being you.
Do me a favor, take a little time to look around and see those who are your fellow actors on your life’s stage. Give them your applause and thank them for helping you make your performance as pleasant as it is. And before I forget thanks for being you, I appreciate you even if we have never met.
Oh by the way, thanks to those who sent me birthday greetings they were great, the few hundred I received was overwhelming.
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
The kids said:
Never trust a dog to watch your food. Patrick, age 10
When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.- Michael, 14
Never tell your mom her diet’s not working. – Michael, 14
Stay away from prunes – Randy, 9
Never pee on an electric fence. – Robert, 13
Don’t pull dad’s finger when he tells you to. – Emily, 10
When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair. – Taylia, 11
Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment. – Traci, 14
On the first day of school, the Kindergarten teacher said, “If anyone has to go to the bathroom, hold up two fingers.”
A little voice from the back of the room asked, “How will that help?”
A mother and her young son returned from the grocery store and began putting away the groceries.
The boy opened the box of animal crackers and spread them all over the table. “What are you doing?” his mother asked.
The box says you can’t eat them if the seal is broken,” the boy explained. “I’m looking for the seal.”
Gravity isn’t easy, but it’s the law.
A frog telephones a psychic hotline and is told, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”
“Great,” says the frog, “Will I meet her at a party?”
“Will I meet her at a night club?”
“When will I meet this beautiful young girl?”
“Well,” said the psychic, “You will meet her next year — in biology class.”
“Paranoids are people, too; they have their own problems. It’s easy to criticize, but if everybody hated you, wouldn’t you be paranoid?”
– Steven Wright
There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket which was pulled to the top by several monks who pulled and tugged with all their strength. Obviously, the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was terrifying.
One tourist got exceedingly nervous about half-way up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.
The monk thought for a moment and answered brusquely, “Whenever it breaks.”
One of life’s mysteries is how a 2 pound box of candy can make a woman gain 5 lbs.
A young mother paying a visit to a doctor friend and his wife made no attempt to restrain her five-year-old son, who was ransacking an adjoining room. But finally, an extra loud clatter of bottles did prompt her to say, “I hope, doctor, you don’t mind Johnny being in there.”
“No,” said the doctor calmly, “He’ll be quiet when he gets to the poisons.”
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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