Well, here it is, my 70th birthday. That is a lot of birthdays! And, as you can imagine, I’ve had some great ones!
When I was a child, I remember one birthday in particular. My Mother made my favorite cake – she was an excellent baker – and I was allowed to invite my friends over for a party. So that afternoon, we closed the restaurant early, and my friends poured into the A-1 Truck Stop. We had the restaurant to ourselves and I felt so special. As I ate my piece of delicious cake, I thought, “This is the best birthday EVER!”
When I turned 40, I had a really fun birthday. I was at a University of Florida basketball game and a friend had delivered to me in the stands, dozens of black balloons to commemorate this momentous birthday! And, along with the balloons was a young woman, scantily dressed, who sang “Happy Birthday” in an untraditional manner! The stands erupted into applause, and although I was quite embarrassed, I thought, “This is the BEST birthday, ever!”
This past weekend for my 70th birthday, my children and grandchildren wanted to take me to dinner to celebrate. They hired a big van with a driver that could carry all of us. My son explained that having a driver meant we could all cut loose a little and have a cocktail or two! But on the way to dinner, Andy, my daughter Ashley’s husband, said he’d like for us to stop by the Rotary Wild Game Feast Site and show their children where he and Ashley first met in the year 2000, at the Rotary Annual Feast.
When we pulled into the Feast Site, there were a number of cars there and I said, “Oh my; let’s not intrude! It looks like someone is having a party!” And to that, my children and grandchildren said, “SURPRISE!!”
I was dumbfounded. Completely and utterly dumbfounded. I’m sure you know what I mean. Sometimes, someone plans a surprise and you get wind of it. You know, an odd word or a mention of something that gives you a little hint. But this time, I was totally in the dark!
Along with my children, Ashley and Ben and their spouses, Andy and Robin, respectively and my four grandchildren, Maddy, Jacob, Carson and Kate, there were a large number of good friends at the party. I was so thrilled to also see in attendance my sister Sylvia and my brother John along with their spouses, Richard and Lynne, respectively, and most of my wonderful nieces and nephews.
This was such a wonderful party that I found myself in tears as it made my heart so happy. So many people I love were there. And as I looked over the crowd, I thought to myself, “THIS is the BEST birthday, ever!”
Over the years I have had some fantastic birthdays! I am a very fortunate guy to have had those experiences. But this past weekend, I took a moment to stop and savor just how much this special moment touched me to the core of my being. It wasn’t just about a party - even though I enjoy a good party! It was about celebrating with people I love and that they went to this much trouble to throw me a surprise party! This birthday was so wonderful that I think I’ll continue having them!
Life is good, very good and I am most grateful.
So, was this the “BEST birthday ever?” For sure, it was! (So far…)