I somehow managed to quietly celebrate my 75th birthday last week without too much hoopla with my wonderful wife and amongst family and friends.
Just like all of you, over the years, especially as a young duffer, I have always looked forward to my big day on September 11th, but after that horrific day in New York in 2001 it does bring on some very sad memories of all of those very proud souls who lost their lives so suddenly.
This time around I did receive and really appreciated the usual phone calls and emails from our children and friends here and around the world. There was also some fun-ribbing from my mostly younger coffee buddies and Golden Age Bowling League mates, who congratulated me for some-how surviving for three-quarters of a century, but then again they are usually jealous because I have more hair and can tell much better ‘senior jokes’ than they do. Our youngest son Andrew, who lives in Perth, Australia with his wife Tara and son Liam also sent greetings and are really looking forward to visiting us around Christmas as well as sharing an after birthday toast of prune juice and low-cal cookies with the ‘old guy.’ Thanks to the magic of face-time and all the rest I also received some really neat musical tributes and old fun-photos of hanging out with family and friends and spoiling grandchildren, which always makes each and every one of us feel so lucky that we can preserve and enjoy the most precious and treasured moments and memories of all of the topsy-turvy-testy and tantalizing phases of our lives from child-hood to adults to seniors, and everything else in between.
Yours truly got a really good pre-birthday gift this year when the Government allowed me to keep my driver’s license for the next five years, but this came after the mandatory medical and a few anxious weeks of being a worry-wart. During my birthday supper with family, which included the biggest chunk of ice-cream cake (no candles) that I have ever seen and which I shared, I received a magnificent framed picture and other photos of my early ‘growing up’ days in and around Ponoka with my brother Peter and my late mother and father Michael and Irene Rainone. I had just a few tears as they showed our little family together during those favourite trips down the highway to Gull Lake for swimming and picnics, our little home on Riverside Drive and up at the Alberta hospital grounds, and driving around in dad’s favourite hot cars (the Ford Impala and the 1965 Mustang) which were pampered and polished every day of the year.
It is these times, especially during retirement, that we love to browse through the photo-albums, to share the joy with family and friends, and fondly remember the good old days in our favourite home town. Being somewhat of a pint-sized hooligan when I was growing up, I will always have my parents, and a whole lot of super kind people to thank for keeping me on the straight and narrow, helping me up when I was down, and in many cases giving me a second and third chance to succeed. I will never forget those super people and teams and amazing ‘characters’ and friends that I played and volunteered with, as well as those great work-mates that I rubbed shoulders with for 40 years at the Ponoka Herald, Town of Ponoka, The Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse, and the Ponoka News, who so kindly let me just keep on writing about my favourite home-town, its folk and successes, and its’ family friendships. Along the way, especially in our wild and wonderful years, we fell in and out of love many times, we thrived on tough love and good learning at home and at school, and we somehow survived and boldly carried on to raise our own families about the same way, while cherishing and remembering old friends and making new ones, but always finding a little time to stop and count our blessings…one day at a time.
Let’s all hope for a month of grand and traditional ‘Indian summer’ as well as having a great week, all of you.