In case you haven’t heard the news, that I had a “big” birthday earlier this month. You would be an exception around here if you hadn’t heard because my family went way overboard in spreading the word on all sorts of today’s media. I’ve never seen such a pile of greeting cards and more keep arriving every day, several weeks after the big event.

Some long-time friends have sent along beautiful sentiments such as, “May the joy of favorite memories wrap around you, the light of your dreams shine within you ... and the happy wishes we’re both sending you come true in countless special ways.” Another couple sent, “Today is so much more than just another birthday. It’s a celebration of the day you were born, and all the years that have made you the incredible person you are.”

Some well-meaning people passed along compliments, “They say that age is just a number, but some numbers are more impressive than others ... and so are some people. Celebrating the amazing person you are, and the remarkable life you’re leading.” A classmate from the Class of 1956 wrote, “Little did I know when we were in 4th grade and, I was in the seat behind you, that 70-some years later we’d be sharing good-times. You are a good man and I am so pleased to call you my friend, always.”

A couple of our kids submitted a card that said, “A lot of things have happened in the last 80 years – satellites, cell phones, penny loafers, rock and roll, jet planes, microwave ovens, sizzling fajitas, credit cards, bottled water, TV dinners, jukeboxes, cheese in a can, the Internet, wine in a box, remote controls, and YOU! And you’re the best of them all!” Even better than a remote? Wow!

Some of the cards focused on the cake and candles, “Is that a forest fire? ... or just your birthday candles?’ Or another speculated, “Not much scares you, but in this card is something guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine ... one more candle on your cake!” Another was designed to set me at ease, “The Lord never sends us more than we can bear ... though sometimes he sends us more candles than we can blow out!” But another reported, “Life can’t be counted in candles or measured in years that have flown ... it’s counted in kindnesses, close friends and loved ones, and in all the sweet blessings we’ve known.”

An anonymous friend sent a poem, a long poem, “Today, dear Lord, I am 80; and there’s much I haven’t done. I hope dear Lord, you’ll let me live until I’m 81. But, if I haven’t finished all I want to do, would you please let me stay awhile, until I’m 82? So many places I want to go, so much I want to see, do you think you could manage to make it 83? Many things I have done, but there’s so much left in store, I’d like it very much to live to 84. And if by then, I’m still alive, then I’d like to stay to 85.

They continued, “The world is changing very fast, so I’d really like to stick around, and see what happens to the world when I am 86. I know, dear Lord, it’s a lot to ask, and it will be nice in heaven, but I’d really like to stay around until I’m 87. I know by then I won’t be fast, and sometimes I’ll be late, but it would be oh-so-pleasant to be around at 88. I will have seen so many things and had a wonderful time, so, I’m sure that I’ll be willing to leave at 89 (well, maybe!)

Several people offered advice for the future such as, “Do treat yourself to something nice that means a lot to you. Don’t lift a finger doing things that you don’t want to do. Do eat a lot of cake with all the ice cream that you please. Don’t give a second thought to any fat or calories. Do feel like someone special with each card and gift you get. And don’t forget to have your best and brightest birthday yet!”

My neighbor sent along a picture of a dog riding down the road with its head outside the window and offered, “Hope you have a sun-in-your-face, wind-in-your-hair kind of day.” Another offered, “Hope your birthday’s so good, you wake up the next morning with a smile still on your face. Good friends warned, “Things that don’t age well include bananas, dance moves, tattoos, and yearbook photos. But You? Still amazing. No Surprise there.” I do like fresh bananas and old pictures, but I will avoid those other two.

I would like to express my thanks to all those friends and relatives that took time and their money to mail out a note to me throughout the first half of this month of March. They have helped to keep the U.S. Postal Service in business. And to the several hundred who have said “Happy Birthday” along with a few other greatly-appreciated kind words on Facebook; and to the people everywhere in miscellaneous shopping and community situations in person. Lately I have started to respond with, “Thank you! You are among the first to wish me happiness for that 81st birthday which is now only 350 days away.”

My sister-in-law concluded when she wrote this wish, “May the year ahead bring you a world of pleasures. Enjoy all the love and affection that comes your way today. You deserve it and please don’t stop your write ups in the newspaper. I enjoy reading them.”

And here we are in the paper again!

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