Irma, happy birthdays and dog hair

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hurricane Irma blew my children from the east coast of Florida to my house in Atlanta two weeks ago.  Three adults, one child, a tiny white dog, and a horse/dog named Bodhi spent exhausting hours in a car to reach the safety of our home.

Today the house is quiet and all have returned to Florida trying to find normalcy among fallen trees, flickering power and roads strewn with sand.

Along with the silence, what is left in Atlanta is a house filled with dog hair, sheets that need changing, towels that need folding, games that need to be put away and a refrigerator that, I swear, Irma herself whirled through.

Irma coincided with a trip that was planned to celebrate my birthday. My birthday isn’t until the end of the month, but it seems that the weekend of September 16 was chosen to accommodate all.

Yes, I have lived six decades.  I really thought turning 70 was going to be a tough one.  Decade changing birthdays are usually traumatic and eventful.  The good news is they usually bring family and friends together to help you blow out all those fire inducing candles.

The weekend was full of wonderful surprises, visiting relatives, friends and stories told with abundant laughter.

As I looked at those I love, I realized turning 70 is just about the best age possible.

To make it to 70 is a great reason to rate it best.

My brother never did, nor did my friend Krista, nor did Sharon who was killed in an accident after graduating from high school.  We always want more money and years, but some never have a chance to accumulate either.

At 70, I appreciate time and try to never waste it. It is a gift.

While I was watching my family and friends laughing at some of my crazy antics, I was reminded that life really boils down to appreciating the people that made my 70 years special.  Those folks are the ones that held my hand and supported my dreams. They gave me the opportunity to feel deep, abiding love for them and be humbled by it.

I realize they didn’t come into my world by accident. There is a certainty at 70 that nothing in life is by accident, it is and always has been, God’s plan.

I have made many errors in past decades. However, they are a part of who I am today. My mistakes made me empathetic to others and taught me forgiveness is way better than resentment. I had to learn to forgive myself, and the only way one can do that is to get on one’s knees. There is no other way.

I accept there are people whom I once loved that I will never see again on this earth. However, it’s OK because I got to see and know them.  They were special folks that made such an impression that I always keep them alive in my heart.   

There were heartaches and sadness on my road to 70, but what joy it was to take the ride and realize that I journeyed through them. Those hardships made me strong and not fearful.  I now write about them, which is quite amazing. Again, I guess that’s part of the plan.

When I was six, Mama made me a dark chocolate cake with pink icing for my birthday.

I got a kitten that year and I named him Sparky. I was terribly allergic to Sparky, but loved him too much to give him away.  I sneezed and itched for many years. I learned at six that when you love something, there are sacrifices you always must make. Sparky, along with many others, was worth it.

When I was in high school I was insecure about my looks and my personality. Matter of fact, I was insecure about everything. I wanted to be anyone but me.  As I aged, I understood God molded me for a reason to be who I am and I had to just work with his design. I learned to be secure by looking not at me but him.

This weekend amid the clutter, the dogs licked my hands, my family told me I was loved, my friends accept me as I am and even helped me blow out all those candles.  What else could one want in life?

Today I will sweep up the dog hair, pack up the games, fold sheets, and take Irma out of the fridge.  I now have the wisdom to know that even those things provide the most precious of memories and turning 70 might just be the pink icing on the cake.   

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at