Legendary major league baseball pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige once said, “Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
Unfortunately, that quote reminds me that this Sunday (Nov. 10) I face another of life's milestones often referred to as a birthday. This will be number 61 but as comedian Jack Benny used to tell people when they asked him just how old he was, I like to say, “I will be 39 for the 12th time.”
Legendary major league baseball pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige once said, “Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.” Unfortunately, that quote reminds me that this Sunday (Nov. 10) I face another of life's milestones often referred to as a birthday. This will be number 61 but as comedian Jack Benny used to tell people when they asked him just how old he was, I like to say, “I will be 39 for the 12th time.” Unlike Christmas and other special family holidays, it is difficult to remember specific events that took place on your birthday – though there were some notable activities and parties. I have difficulty recalling the specific gifts that I received on that special day because I am more inclined to recall the special time spent with family and friends. I clearly remember the angel food cakes and ice cream in the adolescent years and the magnificent and very special, if not eloquent, birthday meals that Joyce has served up over the years. Between my birthday and Thanksgiving, November is a big food month in the Hogan household. Though obviously I don't remember, my Mom told me that I was a very sick young man on my second birthday. She told me that my fever reached 104 and I had to be packed in ice to get it down. Needless to report, I recovered long enough to enjoy 58 more birthdays. I do remember getting my first football of my very own. I believe that I turned 13 on that very cold November day. I had been using my brother's hand-me-down pigskin previously. I know that it was a school day because I couldn't wait to get home that afternoon to try it out. A friend of mine came over to visit and we begged and pleaded until Mom finally gave in and let us go out in the less than desirable cold, dreary weather. There simply was no passing the football allowed inside the house. After tossing a pass to my friend, I went out for a “long one.” The ball really wasn't catchable but I managed to grab at it and it struck the tip of my index finger. Cold weather and freshly inflated footballs don't mix and I wound up with a sprained finger that kept me from P.E. class for several days. Some birthdays are simply notable for where they occur in your life. You recall number 13 because you officially become a teenager. According to the rites of passage, the 21st birthday means you are “officially” an adult. It turns out that is not as quite a pleasant experience as you imagined earlier in life. After 21, the decades begin to roll faster than a snowball down a hillside. By the time you turn 30 the birthdays begin to hurt a little. You actually do begin to feel them. No sooner than the 30s slip past, here comes the dreaded 40s. My mom told me that birthdays didn't really ever bother her until she reached 40. At this point, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to turn back the clock and be 40 again. It should be noted here that it was at 40 when my own children became a big help and began calling me the “Old Buzzard.” I felt like wearing a black armband on that particular birthday. Friends and family gathered in our church's fellowship hall on the day marking my 50th birthday. However, the biggest surprise party was last year's observance of number 60. Believing that we were going to spend a quite meal together with the immediate family, Joyce and I stopped by the church building to get some additional ice for the gathering. A chorus of “surprise” greeted me as I opened the back door of the building. While standing there with my mouth wide open, my brother, Mike, tapped me on the shoulder. To say that I was speechless would be a grand understatement. It seems birthdays have a way of sneaking up on you.