Gendusa: Happy birthday, dear friend

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A friend of mine is turning 70 this week.  Matter of fact, I personally know hundreds of folks that will turn 70 this year, including me.

The year was 1947.  Soldiers came home after the war from the shores of foreign countries to open arms, big dreams, and joy.

Those of us that were born during and after World War II, are bound together by the sights and sounds we have witnessed simultaneously.

On Saturday mornings we watched Howdy Doody, Sky King, and Mighty Mouse on the new devise called a TV.  On Sunday, we ate fried chicken or pot roast after church.  On Monday, we met at school where we laughed and learned together.

We held hands and prayed when a President was assassinated. We cried when we lost a friend or brother in Viet Nam.  We applauded as we witnessed the first man to orbit the earth and when we all left for college, segregation was soon to be history.

We danced to the beat of the Supremes, and sang along with the Beatles, Elvis, and Marvin Gaye.  Together we started driving our cars, driving our parents mad, and driving ourselves into the unknown.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were 17?  What happened?

When I thought of my friend turning 70, it made me realize how special turning older is.  I realize that age is just a number attached to us by a paper calendar.

My friend, along with countless others, really hasn’t aged at all.  Age is in the spirit, in the heart, and in looking at life with more meaning.  The worst mistake a 70-year-old can make is to think of themselves as 70.

I thought about my brother that only lived to be 56.  My friend, Krista, died at 52, sadly, before she had the opportunity to hold a grandchild.  A young man I adored lived to be 14 and another lived to be 31.  Countless folks we know and love never got to see the bright side of age.

We will never know why they didn’t, until it is our time to join them and God. However, their short lives make me appreciate the time I  have had here and the folks that fill my time.

If I had been born twenty years later or more, I wouldn’t have been able to have the friends, loves, and family that I do.  I wouldn’t have been able to watch my class of ’65 win a state basketball championship. I would have missed the fun drives to Columbus to get Krispy Kreme’s, or wish a Happy Birthday to my friend this week.

Yes, if I had been born twenty years earlier, I would be younger, but I wouldn’t trade places with anyone to have it.

Being born in 1947 and turning 70 is a good thing for me.  I love the things I do and I appreciate the blessings I have.  I still have the same crazy spirit, I still talk too much, I still think too much, and I still love Krispy Kreme’s.

I have climbed over a mountain to find a place where what other people think of me is not as important as what I think of myself.  I have climbed down to where I can see God’s hands a little clearer. I can look back at my journey and realize, with gratefulness, He was holding my hand the whole way.

Like all those born in our generation, we have reached or passed the pinnacle of our careers.   We are left with the knowledge that it wasn’t our careers that made us successful, but how well we did our jobs.

We must understand that we now have the opportunity to pass wisdom to those that will one day turn 70…. If they are lucky.

Often our children think of us as archaic and roll their eyes when we can’t text as rapidly as they can, or even find the phone, for that matter.  However, when they need advice they still call.  When they can’t find their way, or need a recipe, they still turn to us to get directions or to find out how we made that special cake.

Those same children, grandchildren, friends and family are the lights that lit the way on our journey to 70 and beyond.

With a twinkle in her eye, my mother said to me right before she died, “Lynn, are you ever going to grow up?”

“I haven’t planned on it, Mom!”, as we both laughed.

I don’t dread my September birthday. I realize I have walked some beautiful shores, been welcomed with open arms, fulfilled some dreams, and have great joy.

To my friend, and to all of you that are blessed to age another year in 2017, celebrate your birthday with unbridled joy.  Living is beautiful and every day that you live a bit longer, you learn just how special it is.

And, finally, don’t look in the mirror, because it lies just like that calendar.