Happy Birthday to Me


Back when we were carefree teenagers we only lived for the day… the next test, next date, or next significant thing. While I was in the Marine Corps I only thought about honor and giving everything my very best… the next mission or deployment. In Vietnam I only thought about the present mission and staying alive. Once a young, physically fit Marine who could do a little 25 mile hike with 80 pounds of gear on my back… land on a beach on Puerto Rico and climb to the top of hill 105. All this today stuff was preparing us for what we would face tomorrow.

Back then none of us thought that we would ever be this old and decrepited. But guess what… through many ups and downs we got there!!! When I wear my Marine Corps sweats some young guys look at me in wonder, I just tell them I am a Marine Corps recruiter and finish with this: “Sign up and you too can be in this same condition when you are seventy-four.” For some reason it doesn’t seem to impress them enough to join the Corps.

The condition I am talking about is better explained in the words of my doctors. One of my doctors recently told me I had the constitution of a bear. I smiled and stood taller than ever. Poked out my chest in pride about how he had described me. He said “Don’t get so cocky, in medical terms the constitution of a bear means: Your kidneys are “barely” functioning, you heart is “barely” pumping enough to keep the fluid off, your diabetes is “barely” staying stable, your liver is “barely” working, your mind can “barely” remember yesterday, your neuropathy is so bad you can “barely” feel a hammer hitting your foot. In other words, you are “barely” staying alive.” Busted my bubble big time. 

I’ve had a lot of health problems due to our government spraying a defoliant on us called Agent Orange. I am now 100% service connected disabled. I use a cane and a rollator to help with balance. We are getting a walk-in shower installed to help keep me from falling while stepping over a tub. The VA has put in the monster looking ramp to help me get to the car.

All of this sounds like I am ready to check out. But that is not the case. It is true I have little energy and have to watch a lot of things like diet and fluid intake. Sometimes I feel like I am worthless, useless and a wet blanket at all family events. But most of the time I am happy, still have a good sense of humor, love my family – and they say they love me. I really feel very fortunate and blessed to be 74 and have the constitution of a bear. I get to see my family grow… enjoy my wonderful grandchildren, and talk with friends. My son is still the best man I have ever known with a very high sense of integrity, who has a wonderful lady, Annette Osborne, as his significant other. She brings an additional special beauty to our lives. We look forward to many years of love with her. It doesn’t hurt that she is a PhD nurse. My wife still puts up with me and helps me with almost everything… I would be lost without her.

So, in this old decrepited condition – it is indeed a very happy birthday. I am so blessed to be celebrating this day.

Grace and Peace

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