Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I’ll mark a major milestone this Saturday, September 24, 2016, when I celebrate my fifty-eighth birthday.

Ordinarily, the fifty-eighth anniversary of one’s birth wouldn’t be regarded as significant. It’s not like turning fifty or sixty or a hundred. Fifty-eight is to birthdays as Tuesday is to weeks: shrug-worthy.

It’s important to me, though.

When it comes to my immediate family, I’ve long been the last one standing. My only sibling, a brother named Stanley, was born two years after me and died twelve hours after his life began. My mother died in 1975 after a seven-year struggle with cancer. She was fifty-three. My father died of a massive heart attack in 1979. He was fifty-seven.

So as of Saturday, I’ll not only have outlived all of my immediate family members; I’ll also have lived to a greater age than any of them managed to reach.

I’m thankful.

I’ve come to realize, though, that the true measure of life is its depth, not its length. The quality of a life is especially seen in the love that is experienced in it.

Let it be noted that I have lived as one of the most blessed human beings that ever walked this globe.

I have known the love of Debra, who has been light in my times of darkness, hope in my moments of despair, and faith in my periods of doubt. And during the other thirty-eight years of the thirty-eight years and three months that we’ve been married, she has multiplied my joy.

I have known the love of our children Joshua and Sara, who have amazed me with their love for life, their embrace of the world, their quest for knowledge, their depth of understanding, their sense of humor, and their commitment to their beloveds.  

I have known the love of the Lord. I really have.

It’s all been grace.

Thank you, Debra.

Thank you, Joshua.

Thank you, Sara.

Thank you, Lord.

There have been many others whom I have known and loved and who have known and loved me.

Thank you, too.

A lot of love has been packed into these fifty-eight years.

I am grateful ...

1 comment:

Andrea Stoeckel said...

Michael, first...Happy Birthday! Sounds like you and I have walked similar paths, and I may "borrow this" idea for my 60th early next month. I too lost my parents at 55(Dad) and 58 (Mom) 15 months apart in 78+79. Dad to cancer we didn't know about but his diabetic body couldn't handle, and Mom to a stroke I actually think was a broken heart. I lost my sister (who is still living) to addictions about 30 years back, and haven't seen her in over a decade....

This year, my spouse and I have been "in life" together 15 years. I also celebrate my25th Anniversary of Ordination in November.

"Its a great life if you don't weaken" my mother used to say