What’s the old line — If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself? That is my preface to saying that I have a birthday coming this weekend and can attest to the fact that there are more of my body parts that snap, crackle and pop than I was aware I possessed in my prime time.
If I could get my sweet momma back for just 30 seconds, I would apologize for having teased her about reading the obituaries first every morning. Today, I do the same. If I could spend a moment with my dad, I would say I was sorry I kidded him about wearing a hat every time he left the house, even if it was to go to the mailbox. My hat is right by the door. Like mother and father, like son. It just took me a while to get there.
Birthdays are special around our house. Cameron Charles Yarbrough, who gives meaning to the term “great” as in great-grandchild, has a birthday two days prior to mine. His mama had sworn to me that he would be born on my birthday, but she forgot to consult with Cameron Charles, who decided he had been cooped up long enough. Somehow, he had figured out that the sooner he arrived, the quicker his great-grandfather would make his life special. He guessed correctly.
Cameron and I are privileged to be a part the most exclusive event in town. It is called the Birthday Bash. This will be the 11th annual and tickets are impossible to get. The highlight of the event is a special birthday cake designed by him and funded by you-know-who.
I am told that the theme of this year’s cake will be based on the Minecraft video game. I have no idea what that is. Their website says the game is set in “infinitely generated worlds of wide open terrain — icy mountains, swampy bayous, vast pastures and much more — filled with secrets, wonders and peril!” I just hope the cake has vanilla icing.
There will be others at the Birthday Bash, including parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and good friends. To make it worth their while and to make them feel a part of the festivities, we will feed them some turkey and dressing, sweet potato souffle, macaroni and other delicacies.
Being the two magnanimous souls we are, Cameron and I will even deign to share some of our birthday cake with the crowd, although I am not sure if they will get the part with the swampy bayous or the vast pastures. I just hope they don’t hog the vanilla icing.
Hopefully, the Birthday Bash will turn out to be what it is intended to be — loud and boisterous with large servings of love and laughter. Talking football while watching little urchins scampering around the house like water bugs. And remembering how thankful we all are to be here to experience it. I no longer take these moments for granted.
It is appropriate that the Birthday Bash occurs every year around Thanksgiving. I have so much for which to be thankful, including being alive. It was the sharp eye of my daughter-in-law/nurse who saw I was suffering from a potentially deadly case of sepsis, which resulted in a long hospital stay and rehab that continues today. I am grateful to her and you should be, too. Instead of getting hearing about the infinitely generated worlds of Minecraft today, you could have been subjected to another eye-glazing harrumph about impeaching or not impeaching Donald Trump.
I still strain over gnats more than I should and waste too much time worrying about things I can’t control, but I am trying to remember not to waste a day that I can’t get back. With most of my life in the rearview mirror, days are too precious to be wasted. There are so few of them remaining.
I am blessed to have had the career I have had. I survived the corporate jungle, the chaos of the 1996 Olympic Games and have been given the privilege of sharing my opinions with you for the past couple of decades.
I am thankful for all the people who saw some potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. Foremost among those was the late Jasper Dorsey of Marietta, who was vice president of Southern Bell’s operations in Georgia, who took an arrogant young whip and turned him into a man. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
Most of all, I am thankful that I have a family better than I deserve. They have looked past my foibles, taken pride in my successes and tolerated my mercurial personality.
OK, so maybe my joints do snap, crackle and pop, but I am still around to experience that, for which I am grateful. And I have lived to enjoy another Birthday Bash, even if I don’t understand the birthday cake.