When my wife Paula and I were younger, we decided that we weren’t going to have any more birthdays. Even though we had made this decision, birthdays just kept coming. And we kept celebrating. The funny thing about birthdays, though, is that the number of the year may change, but the spirit remains the same.
Up until recently, I didn’t feel like I was 90 (turning 91). Paula always got after me for doing things that she thought I should have left for someone younger. “You’re not 20 anymore you know, Bill”, she’d say. I would hear her words and do what I needed to do anyhow. What’s the point of letting age get in the way.
The first time I slowed down was when I was 75. Paula and I were preparing out winter wood supply for the house and the maple syrup operation. I had chopped down a great deal of wood during the summer and it had been curing in the sun so that it would dry out nicely and burn “clean”. The logs were still pretty big and so I needed to split them. So, I rented a wood splitter and Paula and I were away to the races. We made good progress as a team and zipped through several cords of wood. I guess I shouldn’t have pushed as hard as I did to finish as when you get tired, you get a bit careless. When we were almost finished, the last “log” per se, I didn’t remove my hand fast enough from the log and the machine split my thumb and index finger from my hand. Paula put my digits on ice in an effort to save them should they be re-attached, but the efforts were in vain. I was a smoker at the time – and I guess that impacted blood flow. In the end, I was left having to re-learn to write with my left-hand.
In spite of the challenges I’ve had to my health since then, I have always remained young at heart – or at least I have tried to.
Last night, my daughter Stacey and Mary Anne held an early birthday celebration for me. A few of my friends and of course, family were in attendance. Every party must have music and food – this party was no exception.
The greatest hope that I could have for anyone is the gift of family and friends. I have always said, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” This, of course was something I’d say when some of me cousins were around and I’d try to get their goat! (grin) And I must admit I have the best family a man could ever want. I am surrounded by wonderful people who continue to enrich my life.
And so – to Martin and Toni, to Claude and Anita, Mary, Mary Anne, JJ, and Megan, Adrienne, Dorothy and Gerry, to Ana and Dorothee, and to Stacey, Kevin, Ben, Katya, and David, I say to you, “My dear friends (and family), your kind words warmed my heart. Thank-you for a wonderful party. Thanks for coming.”