“Blessed” is not a word I often use, the religious connotation is too strong for me. That said, I am extra blessed by the people around me and the place we all share. I live in a community where I feel supported and loved and encouraged. I’m surrounded by a landscape that offers both solace and challenge, raw beauty and man’s imprint, a contrast that only enriches our experience. I am a fortunate 70-year old man.
Saturday night, I was surprised by a birthday party on the Island in Marshall. I was totally oblivious to the months of planning and truly shocked when I walked through the door. After catching my breath and bearings, I was immediately struck by the diversity of people in the room. People I have known for my full forty-four years in the county, the older newcomers and locals, and many young people I’ve met in the last ten years who are the future of our county. It was a wonderful and heartening mix.
I can only say thank you to everyone who came out on the coldest night of our recent record-breaking cold spell, risking freezing pipes and cold houses. My only regret was not being able to speak with everyone, but please know I did see everyone and love that you were there.
There are people in my life who I couldn’t manage without. They put this party together – Leslie, Kate and Justin, Paul and Laurie, Joe and Janet, my brother Mark and his wife Marisa who traveled from Maryland, and their daughter Lily and her partner Joe (who win the prize for traveling the farthest, Philadelphia.) Newer friend Ricky Pumphrey, and one of my oldest and dearest friends, John Rountree. Thank you.
I’ve been saying that 70 got my attention in a way that 60 or 50 didn’t. I don’t feel differently than I did two weeks ago at age 69 and during the party people kept telling me how good I look for my age. But with the average life expectancy for white men in our country at 76 years, the reality is I’m officially old. 2018 marks my 45th year in Madison County, almost 65% of my life in this very special place. My deep and heartfelt thanks to all of you who have made my life the incredible journey it has been.