Today is my birthday and I’m fortunate to have so many friends with whom to celebrate. Birthdays are events for looking forward and sometimes looking back. Today I did a little of each as I wondered how much longer I get to hang around here. Fifty-six is only four years from sixty and that used to seem old. Now that it’s right around the corner it’s different. My brother Mark called at 7:30 this morning to wish me well. He was in Charleston, South Carolina and it was a warm 32 F compared to our 8 F here in Franklinville. Mark always calls and this year we chatted for longer than usual. I asked about my nephew Tom who is serving in the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard in Washington, DC. Mark said he was doing well and had even served at the White House already.
I spend most of my day in an elementary school where my office is and so each morning I’m greeted by a sea of young faces many of whom know me by name. Sometimes I stop to visit, other times they need help opening a locker or picking up something they’ve dropped. I’ve been greeting young people in this building for just a few months shy of thirty years. These children are the flowers of my life. They pick me up on days that I’m down. This morning I greeted a kindergarten class that was passing near my office. I asked them to wait so I could bring a special friend to greet them. I quickly retrieved a life-size Teddy bear from my office and held him so the children could touch the bear. They were delighted that I brought the bear out. Most of the children took time to hug the bear and when I saw them later in the hall they mentioned the bear again.
I usually eat alone in my office but today my wife came and made sure that I’d come to the faculty room at 11:30 AM for a special lunch. When I entered the room all present began to sing Happy Birthday. It was a nice surprise and I was very touched. We all shared some birthday cake and a few stories. I’m grateful for my wife, my life and the students of Franklinville Elementary School who have been so much a part of my life since March of 1979.