Saturday, September 23, 2006

Birthday Ruminations

Well, it is not only the beginning of Banned Books Week, but it is my birthday.

It is not a major milestone this year. Since last year, I have found that I have a colleague and friend who not only shares my exact birthday, but was born in the same hospital, and with the very same obstetrician! More amazing is the fact that it is not where we currently live! It is kind of cool to have that "brothers seperated at birth" thing going on! We joke about it constantly. Did I mention that he is the deacon at my church where I am a Lector and Special Minister of the Eucharist? About a month ago, we found that one of the altar servers was born on our 40th birthday. This particular young man is also in the Boy Scout Troop where I am one of the Assistant Scoutmasters. I find it reassuring to find compatriots, and sharing a birthday is a special connection.

On a more sombre note, I did some math recently. On April 1, 2007, I will be exactly five years older than my father was when he died.

We all have different relationships with our parents. I am blessed that my mother, at 81, is in reasonably good health. There are times, and recently they seem more frequent, when I really miss my father. He died when I was 21. I really did not have a chance to develop an adult relationship with him. But at the same time, I miss him. One of my friends was talking about the fact that her father died when she was in her mid-twenties, and that she never knew her grandparents very well. She also only has one sister. My life has been similar, but also opposite. My father died six weeks after I graduated from college and was not yet 22. I have seven younger brothers and sisters. My youngest sister was nine (9) when our father died. At the same time, all of my four grandparents were alive for my wedding, and three of the four met my eldest son, their great-grandson. One of my grandparents was alive to see all three of my children born, and when my beloved Grandpa Fitzgerald died he had over a dozen great-grandchildren. His eldest great-grandson was an altar server at his funeral.

I've been paying more attention t my health recently, and it occurred to me, that at this point I am more active than my father was. My father faced some of the same weight issues I have been wrestling with. I remember some vague discussion of that in my distant past. But up until his final fight with cancer, he was out there wrestling with us boys (I have three younger brothers) and throwing around the football and baseball. Those have never been skills of mine. However, I can swim a half-mile in 30 minutes, and can ride (on a bike) 20 or so miles in an hour. Two summers ago, prior to my current fitness craze of mine, I managed to keep up with six teen-aged boys and canoe over 70 miles in a week. Eight or so years ago, I swam a mile, straight, in open water. At the same time, while working to keep myself in better shape than my father, and visiting the dermatologist regularly, I still miss my Dad.

Diet update: I've been hanging around 200 pounds for about the last week. That is not bad since I have taken up adding some drinks to my life again ... for good or ill.

A birthday is a good time to sit back and assess. My physical health is better than it has been in many years. My blood pressure medication has been reduced for the first time in 30 years of taking it. My cholesterol numbers are great. My blood sugar is below the threshold for diabetes (which runs in my father's family), and my PSA numbers are normal. My mother and I both look good, and we feel good.

Monday brings the Library Boot Camp East. I'm looking forward to it. Jessamyn West will be spending Sunday night at my house (and I am glad to offer the hospiality). I expect it to be one of the best birthdays recenty. Certainly better than my birthday in 1989 which was spent at the calling hours for Grandpa Fitz. That was the last time I spent a birthday with my siblings.

Enough blathering. More professional thoughts to follow.


  1. Happy Birthday, Michael!

  2. Grandparents are wonderful. My grandfather died in the 1970's; so, I never met him. My other Grandad died when I was 2; so, I don't remember him. Both of them died of heart attacks and now my Dad and my uncles on both sides of the family have heart problems. One Uncle and my brother have both gone vegan/vegitarian, respectively, to help watch their health. I doubt I'd go that extreme!

    My earliest memory is when my parents and I went to see my great-grandma on New Year's Day 1994. I remember rolling on her rug and my dad talking to her and that she didn't have very good hearing. I also rememeber her Christmas tree in the corner of the room and her blue cardigan that she was wearing. We told her that we might be moving to America for a few years. A few hours later, she died at the age of 94. I'm glad that I remember her.