Today is my birthday. Today I turn 46 years young. Typically my birthday gets overshadowed by the 4th of July holiday, the BBQs, the fireworks and the fact that everyone is off from work and celebrating the birth if a nation. Typically, I am OK with that. Not anymore.
Birthdays are milestones. I live for the milestones. This one is meaningful. This is my first birthday with Cancer.
I have had many great birthdays in my life. I remember them. I remember most of them.
I had my third birthday on my Uncle Stan’s boat.
I had my fourth birthday at Kiddieland. I got a purple Huffy bicycle. A fire engine picked us up. My cousin Monte and my Aunt Sherry wore the same outfit.
At my fifth birthday the Magic Sisters performed. I wore white pants with multi colored stripes. It was the 1970s after all.
My sixth birthday was held at my Grandpa Victor’s bowling alley. He owned Drake Bowl on Montrose Avenue in Chicago. We had cake in the bar. I got a Strat-O-Matic baseball game.
For my seventh birthday I got a new bike again. This time with a big orange flag on the back. We celebrated at Night ‘N Gale in Highwood.
When I was eight we played putt putt. At nine we took about 20 kids to a White Sox game and at ten we had a party at Blinker Street, the arcade in Glencoe. I KNOW all of you from Glencoe remember Blinker Street.
Then you kind of stop. You stop having parties. There are celebrations. I remember birthdays at summer camp. The next celebration I remember was 21. I had 21 shots on my 21st birthday at the Hunt Club in Chicago. I remember that. I don’t remember getting home but I remember that.
When I turned 30 it was the first birthday I celebrated with Helene. We were in the Hamptons. We smoked cigars at a cigar bar. Remember cigar bars? My how things have changed.
At 35 life became about kids. Victor was born and then Ava two years later. My birthdays were meaningless. Their birthdays were the important ones, not mine. From now on, there are no meaningless birthdays.
At 40 we lived in Minneapolis. Somehow Helene found 75 people that could tolerate me enough to throw a 40th birthday party. Our family flew in from Chicago and New Jersey. That was a great birthday.
At 43 I returned the favor and threw Helene a 40th party in New Jersey. I don’t remember coming home from that one either. I don’t think Frank from the car service has ever looked at me the same again.
Since 2009 when I turned 42 we have lived in a great house in Westfield with a pool in the back and my Lynx 42 inch stainless steel grill perched on the deck. That is where I spend every birthday. The very BEST birthdays surrounded by family and friends. We swim, we grill, we drink. There isn’t anything better than that. And that is where I will be today- 46 years young – surviving Cancer surrounded by my family.
I will spend the day like that. I probably will go work out. Hang by the pool. Reflect on birthdays past. Appreciate all that I have around me and then begin plotting. Today I will plot my course on how to get to my 47th, my 48th and many, many more years beyond those. Today I will plot my course to hit all of those future birthdays and all the milestones in between them.
It’s a great day to reflect on the silver linings in life. Family, friends, milestones. It’s a great day to fight Cancer. Let’s begin.