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My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings

It’s almost 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night and in an hour I’ll finish up age sixty-five and move on to the first day of sixty-six.  I haven’t really liked to talk about my age much for let’s say the last twenty years but, I’m being reminded the alternative to not getting older is just that, not getting older.  I certainly don’t want that.  So what does a single guy living alone do on his sixty-fifth birthday anyway.  In my case what I did today is what I’ve done on most of my previous birthdays, not too much.  I’ve never been someone that felt the need to celebrate the day after yesterday just because it was the anniversary of the day I was born.  Now I know I’m probably the odd man out with my opinion on this day of each of our lives but, that’s always been me.  Of course when I was little I enjoyed my parents buying me gifts for my birthday but selfishly, that was the only thing important to me about a birthday.  The only birthday I looked forward to without presents was my sixteenth birthday and that was because I could get my driver’s license.  After I outgrew getting gifts as a child from my parents, I never expected or really wanted any more birthday presents from anyone.  However, that mindset changed a bit in the past year or so ever so slightly.  I’ve always told my boys to please not buy me anything for my birthday.  I did so again this year.  Especially now that both of them are out on their own trying to make their own way in life.  I’d much rather they spend their hard earned money on themselves and not me.  Like many of you, if there is something little I need or want I just go get now at this point in my life.  I’m certainly not going to wait weeks and months to ask for whatever for my birthday.

Payton did surprise me with something today that was unexpected and didn’t cost a thing but a trip to Tuscola.  Last fall Payton moved out of the house and down to Charleston.  He had gotten a labrador months before he moved out and me being the dog person I have been most of my life, I grew very close to Brodie.  Well today Payton brought Brodie to Tuscola to see me on my birthday, unannounced but extremely a welcome gesture.  Brodie, even though he isn’t here very often anymore, comes right in the house like he still owns it.  He visits all of his favorite nooks and crannies to make sure no other dog or cat has invaded his space while he’s been away.  After his inspection is finished he perches himself up in the bay window where he has always stationed himself just so to watch over everything going on in his castle.  He’s a wonderful dog.  He loves everyone and wouldn’t bite to save his own life I think.   Having German Shepherds for thirty years, this is a pleasant characteristic to have in a dog now.  I’m sure a visit from a dog on my birthday when I was eight years old instead of presents wouldn’t have thrilled me much.

So I said earlier that my mindset of getting gifts on my birthday has changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. Birthday presents are usually material things that we give people because we think they may be able to use them in some capacity in their day to day lives.  An exception I guess is jewelry or an equivalent people give to express their love for someone on their birthday.  Can we meet someone who puts a new twist on gifting on your birthday?  Could it be it’s no longer about the gift itself but the unseen meaning held within the gift?  Could the gift just be a bridge by the person giving it to express their feelings when words alone just won’t do?  I believe this is true.  Maybe I have gotten a wee bit wiser as I’ve grown older.  Maybe I’m shedding some layers of my cold, hard shell that I’ve always prided myself on to protect my emotions because I didn’t want to appear soft to those people who know me?  Can life really continue to get better when a person enters their final third of the pie of life?  When I turned sixty I certainly thought it was the beginning of my end and I was prepared to accept it.  Today, as I finish my final hour of being sixty-five, I’m cutting my life’s pie in quarters instead of thirds and believing I have a long way to go!  On my way to sixty-seven and feeling much better about it.

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