Happy Birthday, Joel

In 1982, this boy entered my life. Well, technically he entered my life in 1981, but I didn't actually get to meet him until 1982.

He began life as the most gentle, peaceful, contended, sublime child. He was always ready with a hug, and loved to be read to. He began reading on his own when he was only one and a half. When he played by himself, he would make up long, involved story-telling songs about dinosaurs. He couldn't say his R's or S's too well at first, so he'd sing, "The tywannathauwuth wath a meat eataaah..."

By age three he was considered an academic genius and encouraged to enter kindergarten early. Deciding that three was just too early, we kept him busy at home with "athignmenth!" He started kindergarten at age four and a half.

A minute later he was ready to graduate high school and pressuring us to sign papers so he could go directly into the Navy. Coming from a long line of Navy service, his dad had no qualms about consenting, but his mom resisted. Finally, though, after Joel really put the pressure on, I signed the papers. Just days later, or so it seems, I was handing him over to strangers who stole him away for nine weeks of Rude Awakening.

Another minute later, Joel was married. He and Cindy now have their first child. Nowadays Joel struggles with the stress that comes with working full time, studying for a Bachelor's degree, and taking care of a one-year-old. (Cindy works at night so they alternate duties with Landon.)

He and Cindy are clearly good parents - Landon is a busy, happy child who doesn't seem to worry at all about having his needs met, he just goes about the business of being a toddler. Joel is working hard to survive his online college courses with a respectable GPA. He's a valuable employee who is depended on at work. (I know, that sounds like I'm doing your annual review!)

I know he worries sometimes that he's not "where he should be" in life at this age, but, really, he's in exactly the right place and I am so proud of him.

My birthday wish for you, Joel, is that you remember to breathe... and live more in the moment. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but don't miss the present. It's gone in a FLASH! One day you look around and you're fifty-something and you have all these precious memories but they are of events so far away you sometimes wonder if it was all just a dream. It's like that feeling you have about an hour after waking up, when you just can't remember all of it no matter how much you want to.

Joel has decided he doesn't feel any older this year, so he's declared this his second 27th birthday. I hope he has many, many more 27th birthdays to come!

Happy birthday, son.

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