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One would think that after 60 years, life would hold few surprises and of those that do pop up, they would be of very minor significance. Not so. On Saturday, October 5th, 2008, my family, friends and neighbours conspired to surprise the hell out of me with a birthday that was four-and-a-half weeks after the fact. The surprise was total as was the delight. I tried to express my thanks, my gratitude and my affection a number of times that evening and failed miserably. Even liquor could not loosen my tongue and my attempts at “speechifying” as the evening wore on fell short of my expectations. Words were inadequate but I hope unnecessary for most who were there. Those who know me could read in my face the affection I had for them all. The gratitude should have been evident.
One statement I did manage to blurt out about “Not being here, but for all of you” was certainly true. In our dreams of rugged self-sufficiency and bold determinism, we like to believe that we are all self-made individuals, shaping our own destinies and thus taking credit for our accomplishments. Horse pucky!!! We are all social and familial animals. We are helpless, drooling blobs of flesh but for the warmth, care and protection of first our immediate family, then our wider family of friends and community, and then our society at large. We are an amalgam of everything that has ever touched us along the way and I have been fortunate to have so many caring and touching influences along the way. Together you have saved me from a life of sin and debauchery, at least for the most part – I may have sampled a little of each along the way. All things in moderation, none to excess.
So once again, thank you for helping me celebrate my 6th decade. My hope is that I haven’t done too much harm during my journey and may have actually done a little good. That’s all I ever asked. That’s all I ever expected. That’s all I hope to achieve.