That’s right, today is my birthday. In chronological years I will be 68… born two months premature at good ole’ Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, NC. Something didn’t go right with the birth… and I had to be rushed to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem to survive. Here is the part that is so amazing: My mother was sick during her pregnancy and was told by the doctors that if she didn’t have an abortion she would be sick the rest of her life. My mother, being the good ole’ Quaker she was, said, “No Way”! I was born with complications and she was indeed sick the rest of her life. I owe my life to her loving spirit.
There have been many life-changing events in my life which I refer to as “birth” days.
My next “birth” day was surviving two car wrecks: one when I was 15 and the other around 17. The first was as my brother and I were delivering the morning newspapers in Mayodan and Madison. We came around this gravel curve, lost traction and hit this big old tree head on. I was knocked out… kinda in and out in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and for a few days afterward. Not long after that the high school summer football practices began. I didn’t realize that I was still brain frazzled and got knocked out during practice. That was it for me. No more football. I am amazed that I had the good sense to say that was enough… but it probably kept me from having some permanent brain damage. The second wreck produced no other damage than a torn up monster of a cadillac which jumped a ditch and awarded me a ticket for an unsafe move.
My next “birth” day was 50 years ago… marrying my best friend Shirley Bruce. We celebrated 50 years on the 7th of August. It has been a very happy and fun-filled 50 years, and we know the next 50 will be even more so.
I celebrated a “birth” day on April 17, 1968 when I was barely wounded – Forrest Gump style – in Quang Tri, Vietnam, when seven rockets hit our tents around midnight. Many of our men didn’t make it that night. I was medevaced to Japan for a month and then back to Okinawa for two months, and then back to Camp Lejeune in early August 1968. I was very lucky to have made it back home alive with very little damage.
My next “birth” day celebration is when I entered the ministry back in June 1973… moving all the way to Associate to the Murphy Circuit. Those people were so gracious to accept this youngster as their trying-to-learn pastor. I thank them everyday for being so kind. I spent 40 years in the ministry and loved most of my time, learned a lot, met many saints of the church, and made many friends. Thanks to all of you for making room in your hearts for this young family.
Early in the morning on August 31, 1995 I woke up having a heart attack. Off to Randolph Hospital and then to Cone. Angioplasty that did not work, two weeks in the hospital and then by-pass surgery on September 15th, 1995. In about three days I will be 20 years old… living this new life of a heart patient. I had a stress test and an echo-cardiogram yesterday because of shortness of breath while walking a short distance. I will find out about that sometime this coming week. Due to some great nurses and doctors I have enjoyed 20 more years than I could have had they not been there and on top of their game.
I am now starting my third year in my new life called retirement. It, perhaps, has been the most difficult of all… a lot of emotional stuff as you moved from the needed to the not needed so much anymore, from the energetic to the lethargic, from the strong to the weaker… from the sharp minded to the forgetfulness of names, dates and places. As they say: “Getting old ain’t for wimps!”
In my retirement, perhaps to remain relevant to the world in some small way, I have written three books. This has taken a lot of time, been frustrating and rewarding. I never really imagined that I would be an author… so just maybe this birthday will prove to be one of the best.
Thanks for all your birthday wishes today and for the special way you have touched our lives throughout the years. You ARE VERY SPECIAL!!!