Sixty years ago on January 25, 1961 my mother went into labor in the house where my wife, Danny, and I now live — my great-grandfather’s house that had become my grandparents’ house by then.
I’m guessing my parents and grandparents, and perhaps an uncle or two, were gathered in a cigarette and pipe smoke-filled kitchen sipping coffee and debating the issues of the day. That’s typically were coffee was sipped and issues debated throughout my youth, and it was almost always smoke-filled from my grandfather’s pipe or my uncle’s cigarettes.
It was a cold winter Wednesday. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac the low was around 24 degrees. The weather was poor and my late mother, Rachel, always said that snow and ice were on the ground, and the car doors were frozen shut. I’m guessing some bit of panic set in as the labor pains intensified.
Soon, though, the vehicle was thawed out enough to get the doors open and my parents sped away to the Newton Hospital where I was born. They say I was a hairy little thing, and kind of looked like a monkey when I was brought home and cradled in an apple box from the A&P where my father worked.
I’ll be 60 on Monday. Gee Wiz!
My dad had just turned a ripe old 28 four days before I was born. He’ll turned 88 Thursday. Wow!
Thirty-two years after I made my entry into this world, my daughter, Rachel-Johanna, was born exactly one week after my birthday. She’ll be 28 on February 1st. My dad was 60 when she was born. Seems like all our numbers are aligning. Perhaps the sign of a great year!
Lots of celebrating has been going on in our house in the month of January for years now. We call it Birthday Season. BS begins on New Year’s Day and goes though the first of February.
The year my daughter was born we lived in the north central Mississippi town of Carrollton, and outside our kitchen window grew a Wisteria bush over a goldfish pond. That year I had put hundreds of twinkling Christmas lights in the tangled vines of that Wisteria and we enjoyed watching the lights though the bay windows as they reflected on the water of the pond.
We also had a very inquisitive little blond-haired neighbor girl that spent as much time at our house as she did her own, and she was constantly asking me how she would know when her baby neighbor was born. I told her one day that when she saw the lights of the Wisteria on she would know that we had gone to the hospital to have the baby and I was true to my word.
For the past 28 years after the Christmas decorations are taken down and stored away we continue to burn little electric candles in the windows of our home each night as a traditional sign of Birthday Season.
They’re glowing now and will continue to do so for another week or so until Birthday Season comes to a close.
This 59th year of mine has been a doozy. With the pandemic, and the lock downs, and face masks, and hand sanitizer, and a toilet paper shortage of all things, there is no doubt the other 58 in no way can hold a candle to the year 2020. But, we made it and now we look to the future again.
I vividly remember being a child sitting in my treehouse never wanting to grow up. I remember thinking 20 was pretty old and 30 definitely over the hill. I remember turning 20 and then 30 and thinking those ages not old at all.
Forty soon became the new 30 then 50 the new 40 and come Monday 60 will be the new 50.
It’s not that old, is it?
Yeah, well maybe it is, but there is not a thing in the world I can do about it. I’m just happy to have been blessed with a fairly healthy life from those humble beginnings as a hairy little monkey in an apple box to the half bald old man I see reflected in my computer screen.
Honestly though, after last year just being alive to see that reflection is a blessing all to itself. So, with that, happy birthday to us all!