Today is my 69th birthday, which means that I have now entered my 70th year and that in another year I will have entered my eighth decade. Dang, I don't feel that old.
I guess it's time to take an inventory. I'm pretty sure that I'm shorter than the 6'4" I was when I was younger. I'm also pretty sure that I'm a few (hah! few) pounds over my high school weight. I've had a minor bout with cancer and a TIA. I have an irregular heart beat. I've fractured my spine. My brother broke my nose (but I broke his toe). I've had tonsilitis, rheumatic fever, arthritis, bursitus, psoriasis, mumps, chicken pox, shingles, stenosis, pneumonia, and a host of other illnesses. As an infant I came close to dying. I've been in a number of car accidents. A sledding accident when I was a kid took out a chunk of my eyelid but not my eye. I decided to leave the construction job I had as a young man when the nurses at the emergency room began to know me by my first name. I've fallen off more roofs and ladders than any single person should. I stuck my hand in a moving cement mixer -- purely by accident, I assure you, although it did keep me out of the army. I've played with rattlesnakes in a college dormitory. I move a lot slower now. Every one of my joints ache and the last emergency room doctor I saw was amazed at the x-ray of my twisty spine. I've been poisoned twice -- the second time the day after the first time. Once, during a nighttime snowstorm, I pulled over to the side of the road to spend the night only to wake up in the morning to find that I had parked less than a foot from the edge of a two hundred foot cliff; just a few inches more and...
Yet I am amazingly healthy and incredibly lucky.
I married the most wonderful woman in the world and now, fifty years after I first saw her, she gets more beautiful every day in my eyes. We were able to raise two magnificent children and send them out to an unsuspecting world. We have five grandchildren, each of whom I love more than the others.
I spend several decades on disability so we never had a lot of money. Luckily, Kitty has a great eye for real estate so we always lived in comfortable homes. If we weren't rich, we certainly weren't poor. Our needs were -- and remain -- simple. We are content.
I remain continually amazed that I have the privilege to be in this world. I marvel in the scents and colors around me. The infinite variety of plants, animals, and, yes, people fill me with wonder. The fact that we as a race have delved into the mysteries of the universe and have dared to look beyond ourselves fills me with pride. An optimist, I have never failed to find the good in a person (the one exception being Dick Cheney). I also have the ability to find the humor in almost any situation, so I guess I'm a snarky optimist.
For the past 69 years I have found beauty all around me. I have found peace in the night sky, in the lapping of the waves, in the graceful dance of flowers in the breeze, and in the knowledge that I share this world with seven and a half billion people, each of whom is as cantankerous and as special as me.
It's a great life and I can't wait to see what happens next.