May 12, 1973 was a good day in my life. Why? Because it was the day … afternoon … I was born.
I can remember almost every one of my birthdays since then. My mother would take me through her experiences on the day I was born. And when 4:43 p.m. struck, she’d call me and sing “Happy Birthday” in an extremely off-key verison of Marilyn Monroe singing to JFK.
My mother and extended family made a big deal of my birthdays when I was younger. The culmination was a party hosted by my godmother that included a clown. After that, I asked my mom to stop having parties.
Instead, she’d pull me out of school and we’d go to Disneyland or an Angels game. Those were some of the memories I treasured the most.
As I grew into adulthood and started working regularly, I always tried to take my birthday off to have a small celebration. In my mid 30s, I started a “Geno-palooza” celebration week where I’d get together with friends and do a different activity that I enjoyed.
When I woke up today, my wife came in as I was getting dressed for work and sang “Happy birthday.”
My 6-year-old wandered in to give me a hug and a kiss.
“Happy birthday, Dad. Do you feel older?” she asked.
“Actually, yes. Yes, I do,” I replied, while trying to match a tie to my suit.
“When I was five and turned six, I didn’t feel older. Does you body hurt?” she asked.
“Not today,” I said. “Do I look older?”
“No,” she said.
And then she went to finish getting ready for school.
Do I feel older? Maybe more mature. As I look back on my life, I am continually reminded that I have less days/weeks/months/years of life than I did last year.
For the past 10 years, I’ve felt the sands of time slip through the invisible hourglass of my life and I remember the seminal moment that made me decide to make the most of those remaining breaths.
So for the past decade, I’ve used my birthday as an event marker to take stock of my progress in terms of reaching my goals.
This year has been a good year: I’ve started running again and recently completed my first marathon. I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of folks needing some help. There have been so many openings to serve, to give back and to uplift.
There will always be areas of opportunity: Being a better husband and father; working on professional development; taking time for self care, etc.
But at 49 … This is who I am: Husband. Father. Communicator. Educator. Human Rights Advocate. Citizen. Runner.