Tia asked me if I’d send her a blog post based on what I thought was one of the many gifts I had ever received that stood out as impressionable. Admittedly, she had to explain what a blog post was. But I agreed.
The list was numerous, from childhood memories of simple, country Christmases, where my favorite gift was contained in a penny candy bag filled with nuts, an orange, an apple, and two chocolate covered cherries; to countless ones spent with my daughters.
But I decided to write the one I felt has impacted my wife, children and me more than any other.
For months, I had been dreading my 50th birthday. 50? And on top of it, my daughter had just announced I was going to be a grandfather. Grandfather? What happened to the debonair young man who could fly a Frisbee halfway across a football field and do kip-ups to impress his adoring daughters? Gray hairs were sprouting. I was falling asleep at the drop of a hat . . . no, before the hat fell! What was happening to me?
Two weeks before that dreaded day, I had a physical. I left more dejected. High cholesterol. Zocor prescription in hand. I jumped into my red corvette and stomped on the gas petal, spinning clear of the doctor’s office. Heading back to work, I vowed I would get to my 50th, telling anyone who would listen that I had gone 50 years without meds. I would remain in control as long as possible.
On the Friday before my birthday, my wife and youngest daughter announced they were taking me to dinner. Frankly, I wanted to go home, settle in my easy chair and be alone. But how do you tell two excited women that you wish they’d go alone? So I went.
They took me to a nice restaurant. It was way too crowded. Too many people dropped by with greetings. A lot of them worked for me, so I feigned warm greetings. Couldn’t they all see the sign on my forehead, “Middle aged crisis brewing! Beware!”
Halfway through dinner, I happened to look across the room and almost fell out of my chair. It was my two brothers and their wives. My head couldn’t spin fast enough. I looked dead-on at my wife. “Tell me you haven’t planned anything for my birthday.”
From their adoring, excited looks I knew something was coming. And for one moment, I was furious. I felt deceived. Hadn’t I told them not to do this? Before I could chew into them, I saw my family moving my way, smiling broadly.
Everything I had been feeling brewed sour. The next day, the doorbell kept ringing. One daughter arrived from
. The other from New York . My brothers called and asked me to
meet them for lunch. I wanted to run, but instead, I acquiesced and went. Chicago
Finally my wife confessed there would be a small gathering. Small? By 7pm, 125 guests had arrived. Despite how I was feeling, the evening proved wonderful. The roasting was kind, and I poured my humor out in rare form.
Afterwards, I realized how special the celebration had been:1. Turning 50 didn’t hurt. In fact it was a blessing of love that still humbles me.
2. GE stock split 3 for 1, first time in my 27 year employment.
3. I made it to 50 without taking one ongoing medication.
Looking back, I realized that was a pivotal time, not just a half century birthday. It reminded me:1. Life is short.
|Dad and his first grand-daughter, Jackie|
3. The added stock value beefed up my savings to finalize my dream. Retirement.
And for the first time in my life, I embraced the fact that I had:1. Missed the mark—leading an unbalanced life.
2. Missed out—not being available for precious moments.
3. Missed life—no time for anything beyond 7 to 7 work days.
More than anything in my life, I wanted to:1. Spend more time with God.
2. Enjoy my family.
3. Give to others.
So in the end, and reflecting back today, I realize that my 50th birthday began a new venture in my life. A new beginning. A lot of blessings. One of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received. A triple whammy multiplied many times over because I’ve been present in love rather than being absent in guilt.
As you age, what is your greatest gift?