It’s my birthday! It started like no birthday should, with a trip to the dentist. No cavities, but my gums are receding. Apparently, that old long-in-the-tooth idiom is real. After a visit from my grandson, Fletcher (I think his mom was here, too), I got to pick lunch. Kentucky Fried Chicken! Did you know that they have a four-piece wing dinner that costs the same as a three-piece meal, but isn’t on the menu? They’ve always had it. It’s one of those little secrets, along with the eleven herbs and spices. And another thing about KFC: does anyone else get creeped out by that guy who plays Colonel Sanders on TV? Colonel Sanders was a real person, for crying out loud. Would Walmart allow a cartoonish reincarnation of Sam Walton? Will a fake Steve Jobs be pushing iPhones in a few years? Stop it already, KFC.
I also sold my car today. She wasn’t much to look at, a 2008 PT Cruiser, but over the years you get sentimental. My kids called it the PT Loser, but in the eight years I owned her, they went through two or three cars each. So, kids, who’s the real loser? The PT was my Royals car. About the only time she left the garage was to go to Kauffman Stadium for my job as a Royals’ usher. She was part of two World Series between 2012 and 16, which is more than any of my kids’ cars got to be part of, especially those of my daughter, Alison, who is a Cardinals’ fan.
Speaking of the Royals, this Friday, Robin and I will be going to our first game together in seven years. A real date at the ballpark, thanks to my friends Bob and Linda Bohr. As I mentioned in a blog post last fall that you can read here, the best thing about being a Royals’ usher was the people. A big chunk of my Facebook friends’ list is ballpark people: guests, fellow ushers, and vendors. I miss them and am excited to get back to the K. Also, it’s buck night… and there are fireworks.
I just stopped and reread what I’ve written. I sound old and maybe a little bit pitiful. Really? Who has fond feelings for a PT Cruiser? Who goes to the dentist on their birthday? Who watches commercials? But do you know what? It’s okay. I’m pretty happy with where God has me this birthday. I count my blessings of a wife who is perfect for me, four kids who became successful adults, two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law who blended right in, and a grandson who likes to play with rocks. Also, I’m fifty-eight and still have both my parents and a grandmother.
I’m blessed that I got to experience thirty years in the field of education, then chuck it all to chase a second career as a writer. Ten years ago, I would have never thought that the characters from a book I was writing would wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me what they were doing next. Writers out there, you know what I’m talking about. It drives you. As much as I loved most of my time in education, nothing pushed me or provided as much satisfaction as has writing.
Back to the dentist. This morning he and I had a long discussion about what’s important. His contributions were well-considered and articulate. Mine sounded like I had someone’s hand in my mouth. We agreed on one important thing - too many opportunities are missed. Vacations are spent worrying about work, too much is tied up in what we do rather than who we are, green lawns and clean houses trump time with kids, sleeping in wins out over church, a little bit now is more important than a lot more later… you start to understand. It made me think of Stephen Covey's observation that we often spend our lives climbing the ladder of success, only to learn it’s leaning against the wrong wall.
But it’s never too late. That’s what birthdays are for. They remind us that, while much time has passed, there’s still more ahead.
Thanks for reading!