Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Have Candles, Need Cake

Today marks the commencement of my 43rd journey around the sun. Being Irish and typically fair-skinned for a Gael I try to make most of my trip at off-hours. I not only burn - I freckle.

It is fairly mind-boggling to me that I am as old as I am. I did any number of less than bright things when I was roughly half of the age I am now (maybe more when I was 21 1/4 as opposed to when I matured at 21 3/4). And I did most of them secure in the shallow, self-absorbed knowledge that I was living for - and intending on only ever living for - me. When you are less than concerned about the journey's length, you tend to be unaffected by the topography of the terrain. I lived through them but more than infrequently I hear a sound or feel a twinge emanating from some part of my off-the-rack carrying case I call my body and think, "Hmmmm...."

More mind-boggling to me than being here is that I have reached the age that was my father's age when Mom gave birth to me - the youngest of their six children. I tell no tales out of school (and if I am well too bad) when I report that half of our sextet currently resides in the 50's and the latter half all are firmly ensconced in the 40's. None of us qualifies as old but we are all making excellent progress on the journey. At least two of us are grandparents (unless one or both of my two is hiding something from me I am not a third member of that club). The first year of the second decade of the 21st century finds all of us alive and well.

Was my wife to come home from work this very day and announce her pregnancy - at this stage of my life - in this 43rd year of my life - I know not how I would respond to that news. I admit to my embarrassment that a fair amount of crying and drinking would likely be involved. Margaret and I raised two children - one of whom lives on his own two time zones away. It is not as if there are two other children under the age of six at home - or three older ones all of whom are school age. And yet I doubt highly my ability to cope with such news - were it to occur, which thankfully it is not.

And there he stood in the winter of 1967 slightly less than two months past his 43rd birthday as the head of a household (at that time a single income household as Mom was a bit tied up in her unpaid position to hold down a second gig outside of the home) of eight. For too much of the fourteen years of my life that Dad and I shared time and space together I understood too little about him and what it was that made him tick. Had he lived to see me reach adulthood I suppose one of the things I would have asked him was how he pulled it off forty-three years ago. It was a mystery to me as a boy and it remains one now.

Today is a day on which folks will invariably wish me a happy birthday. Hell, it is a sentiment that I express to others when it is their birthday. You do it and I do it although admittedly it makes about as much sense as congratulating the guy across the aisle in 13D on the red eye for the flight's safe landing. I had nothing to do with selecting today as my arrival date. Send the cards and the good wishes to Mom. Be thankful that she held fast and kept me inside until Groundhog Day +1. No one needs a baby who sported the grotesquely over sized head I toted around back in the day arriving on a date where shadow casting has an impact on Spring's arrival.

Had I been asked when I was half the age I am now who I thought I would be and where I thought I would be at age 43 I do not think - given the benefit of five guesses - that I would have come close to guessing how things have turned out to this point in the adventure. At half of my present age I would not have presumed that fatherhood would have been part of my life plan - let alone that I would have helped raise two children who are already both adults. I would not have presumed that I would have been fortunate enough to meet and fall in love with a woman who agreed to take me for better or for worse before she had a true appreciation for what she had gotten herself into.

Life is indeed what happens while you are busy making plans. Somewhere along the way - I know not when and I know not how - I figured that out. I like learning things. Keeps the mind sharp. Keeps me young. Nice thing about birthdays. You get older and younger at the same time.



Christian said...

Wait, I feel misled. Wasn't this story supposed to be about cake or a quest for cake or basically something cake related.

But there is no cake in this story is there? Now here it is 6:30 AM and I'm all geared up for cake!

Adam Kenny said...

You know the old cliche about books and covers right? And what's so great about cake? They say, "you can't have your cake and eat it too." What the hell else would you do with it?