Today my stepdad Walter celebrated a milestone birthday. He crossed the 90th Mile Marker, on his life journey. My mom hosted a party at their church and my sisters and I joined in the merriment.
As Walter enjoyed greeting friends and family in attendance, we three girls served up cake and ice cream and oversaw guests as they moved through a buffet that featured fresh fruits and nuts. I watched my stepdad chatting and smiling or sitting quietly listening with a half smile on his face, and I thought of the Ian McKellen documentary that I saw last weekend.
Ian, who is eleven years younger than my stepfather, has already planned out his memorial service. Rather than finding the experience morbid, Ian proclaimed the evening of planning one of the most fun in his life. He wistfully added that it was the kind of celebration he would enjoy attending and he wondered if he should have a trial run of the memorial so he could be there while he still lived and see everyone’s reactions.
Don’t we all long to hear the stories our friends and family have to share, and see our loved ones gathered together in our honor? One of the great tragedies is that we don’t get to hear how much we are loved and appreciated while we are here to be encouraged and delighted by it.
Tonight’s gathering in no way resembled a funeral, however it was a gathering of people who care about Walter Kane. I’m grateful he got to enjoy being celebrated and that he had the opportunity to receive love and recognition, congratulations and birthday blessings.
My take away from the evening? Celebrate the people in my life…old and young, those who have traveled far and those whose journeys have just begun. How precious it is for us to know that we are valued and appreciated.
Happy 90th birthday, Walter. I love you. How extraordinary to witness your life and learn from your journey. May you enjoy continued good health and the warm companionship of family and friends. Nine decades look good on you!