If we knew how important each year would be, we’d spend more time appreciating them.
Happy 110th birthday, Mom. I’ve no idea how (or if) Earthside birthdays are celebrated There. I know you were always telling me how ecstatic you were when at 42, Doc Wilder in Umatilla, OR told you I was going to be your fifth child and third son.
Here I am at 68, looking back along our twin journeys. You always said since I was born on your birthday, I was your most treasured birthday gift. The first few times I heard that I felt—I don’t know how I felt.
I know I was too young to understand my dad was retirement age, and my mother was 42 and, well, me. I know my older three siblings were the age of my playmates’ parents. I know my grade school friends looked at me funny when I mentioned, “Well, I was born on my mom’s birthday!”
“SSSo, we gonna play marbles on the track or not?” “I bet I can bounce my superball higher than you can bounce yers!” “Hey, I learned how to ‘walk the dog’ with my yo-yo! Wanna see?”
Ungrateful little cretins didn’t realize they were in the presence of greatness. Either that or they knew much earlier what took me a few years to grasp. That might be it.
Considering the passage of our years in this life, a few thoughts did a tower check yesterday as I sat pondering over breakfast. The coffee was adequate. Monique kept my cup full. It was the late morning lull before lunch crush, so I got some impressions written without too many distractions.
See what you think . . .
In all our stories, we work up a narrative about ourselves, others, and our journey. The more we write or tell it, it moves slyly from fiction to fact. Then we grow up and realize we didn’t know much at all.
The reality God gently, gradually allows us to see as the years progress causes some serious amending from the immature, self-sure, smug person we were to the quieter, more understanding, compassionate individual God needed us to be along.
Now, standing while thoughtfully scrolling back across 40- to 50-some years of our personal journeys, those paths and our choices in traveling them are creating some embarrassing, humbling, gratitude-generating resets – aren’t they?
Meanwhile, at the Village Inn, things began getting busy. A couple of the regulars, both Vietnam-era vets, slowly walked past. The first was shuffling, assisted by a cane in his right hand. I was distracted by my reading/writing, and only glanced up to make sure he was okay, then was drawn back by the gravitational pull of the above thoughts.
I stopped long enough to notice the second old warrior. He wore a faded green, rolled-sleeve flannel shirt, aging grayish-black suspenders holding up comfortably worn, fraying Levis. The reason I took a closer look at him is because of what I’d just written.
What were these two old men’s stories? I was too engrossed in my head to notice much about the first one. Subconsciously chastened, I was more careful being aware of the next.
In a sense, they were – are – a microcosm of all of us, looking down across the years, being reminded of all the sweet and sour things we’ve been learning about ourselves and one another.
And if those bygone memories are all we have? That’s a sadness. The sum of our existence here is never comprised of all that’s behind us, for so long as God grants us, you and me, life and breath our eyes must be up and our vision sharpened for the next mission He has for us. We also have the benefit of all those years of learning and application to inform us as we move on.
After all, as I heard just this morning on a commercial: “The adventure never ends, because we’re always on our way.”
Boom. Nailed it.
© D. Dean Boone, September 2020