Happy Birthday Greg

This gorgeous fall day was perfect for celebrating a birthday and setting off on an adventure. Greg did both! Last year he purchased a motorcycle, after wanting to own another one for years. He took the bike on its maiden voyage last fall, making a loop through several states. This year as summer was fading away and cooler days and evenings appeared, Greg felt again the call of the open road. 

Following the tradition for birthdays this year, I looked up Greg’s name:

“Greg, you are introspective, prophetic, philosophical, and soul searching, and you can also be analytical, critical and opinionated. You think deeply and clearly, have an air of mystery, and can be solitary and secretive. You are versatile and have the ability to learn easily.

You seek freedom and opportunities to enjoy life. You are adventurous and willing to take risks to achieve your objectives. New ways and new experiences won’t satisfy your restless nature for long, therefore let one adventure lead you to another. You are honest and fair, because you know that this is the only way to receive justice and honesty from other people. Your personal growth is vital to you, and it is difficult to be tied down by rules and obligations. Your restless spirit might best thrive in a field of work that meets your demand for action and adventure.” 

I’ve known Greg for more than 40 years, and those words describe him well. He is a philosopher, a life long learner, and introspective. He is a deep thinker, who tends to vocalize his thoughts so that he can better process them. Greg also has a good sense of humor that helps him to find the light in challenging situations. 

Our kids and grandkids are blessed to have him as Dad and Papa. Greg invests in the lives of his family, both financially and with his time. Even though they are adults with their own families, he checks in frequently with the children, showing interest in what they are doing. They know, and I know, that during times of celebrations and times of sorrow, this man offers his quiet presence and strength. 

I love the last paragraph about Greg’s adventurous nature. As a wild youth, he was indeed a risk taker, and a seeker of exciting new adventures. Greg and I have had long conversations about what happens as we step into adulthood. As we grow older we tend to take less risks, hesitating to set off on adventures, thinking too much about what can go wrong in life, rather than what can go right.  We begin to lose who we are, trading adventures for safety. 

I’ve watched Greg grow and challenge himself these last few years as he questions who he is and what he wants to do. Buying a motorcycle wasn’t so much about taking risks as it was about remembering who he is.  He seeks freedom as he rides down the highway, freedom to be fully who he is, freedom to live a joy filled, adventurous life. 

I’m proud of him for having the courage to reclaim a bit of that wild man who knew no fear. I’m excited for him as he searches deeply in his soul for answers to questions that only he can answer. This adventure that he set off on this morning is a way for him to discover more about who he is and what makes his heart sing. 

Following his heart as it leads him down the road and into nature touches Greg’s restless spirit and brings peace. As his soul grows quiet, his awareness raises in appreciation for the beauty around him and in his life. I can’t think of a better way for this biker dude to spend his birthday, than riding off on a such a quest. 

Happy birthday, Greg. Enjoy your adventure…on your bike and in life. Love you!

Journey 271: Happy Birthday Greg

Today is Greg’s birthday, and we had this day’s journey planned out. We both cleared the day, work wise, and intended to drive to Arkansas, or Springfield, or perhaps even Tulsa, to spend the day doing whatever he wanted to do. There was sure to be a stop at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore…and a steak dinner at a good restaurant, or whatever type of celebratory meal he wanted. It was his special day….and I wanted to gift him with a day of fun. That’s the way it was supposed to go. The reality was, Greg became afflicted with a severe toothache over the weekend. The pain changed all his plans for Saturday and Sunday, and ultimately, changed today’s as well. He has an appointment at the dentist office in the morning, however today, rather than a road trip and fun, Greg’s birthday became one of resting and taking meds to relieve his throbbing jaw.

Gregs bd

One thing that Greg and I both have learned in recent years is to go with the flow. It wasn’t the day that I had planned, but it became the day that was meant to be. How do I know? It is the day we were given. Greg’s body was alerting him to an issue that needs to be taken care of. He listened. Rather than get frustrated by the turn of events, he made an appointment and settled in to let the meds do their work, which made him sleep most of the day. When he stirred this afternoon, I got him a meatloaf dinner from Cracker Barrel, instead of steak, and holding to a tradition that began with daughter Elissa, I got him a birthday treat. He opted for a Frosty Twist, from Wendy’s. Apparently, his tooth isn’t sensitive to cold, at least!

Gregs bd Elissa wedding

And as I have done with the other family birthdays this year, I’ve thought about Greg and his journey this past year. I’m recognizing a pattern here. Every year is significant. Every year has its joys and challenges and its opportunities for growth. That has certainly been true for this man as well. Since his last birthday, Greg has been present for two of his children as they married their sweethearts: Elissa married Josh last November and Nathanael and Megan wed in May. In December he was there as his youngest, Adriel, walked across the stage at Crowder College, to receive her nursing diploma. He stood before her, both of them with tears in their eyes, as I pinned the nurse’s pin to her white scrub top.

Gregs bd Nates wedding

Gregs bd Adriels graduation

Greg is a caring and compassionate dad, very present in the lives of his kids and grandkids. Although often preferring to be the quiet person in the back of the room, his presence is strong and the children look to their dad when they need that strength. When he speaks, they listen, not because they fear him, but because they love and respect him and find value in what he shares. He gives of himself to his family, so he’s there when repairs need to be made, and rooms painted, when grandson Dayan needs practice driving or there are grandchildren performing, receiving awards or playing sports.

Gregs bd Dayan drives

Greg extended that compassion and love to his dad, in the final months of his earthly journey. He had dreaded the loss of his aging father, the last member of his original family. And yet, when the time came, Greg stepped up in ways that he never would have imagined, caring for his dad, spending precious time with him, holding him when he was in pain and confused. He walked with his father until he couldn’t walk with him any farther, offering that quiet strength, and released him to go on, into eternity, when that time came. Greg spoke at his dad’s memorial service, something he never thought he could do, and the words were a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man, a father who surely heard those words and felt so proud of his son.

Gregs bd Dads service

Two years ago, while on a trip together in Eureka Springs, AR, Greg stopped to look at a motorcycle for sale, parked near the highway. As we drove away, leaving that particular bike behind, we discussed Greg’s desire for a motorcycle. He had one years ago, when I first met him. The past few years, he has talked about owning one again. As we drove, he shared what he wanted in a bike…the size, the build, the price….and what owning and riding a bike would mean to him. And then, he let go of the outcome, released his wish and stayed open to what would arrive. This past summer, making a spur of the moment phone call to a local motorcycle shop, Greg found his bike. It was exactly what he had described, two summers ago in AR, right down to the price.

Gregs bd motorcycle and Aubrey

It takes courage, I think, to climb back onto a motorcycle, after 40 years of not owning one. However, gathering that courage, and spurred on by the desire to ride, Greg began to bike again. For him, there is great freedom in hopping on his bike and taking off, no real destination in mind, just him and the bike and an open road. His joy is evident and those trips are fun, and good for his soul. And that is really what life is about….courage and freedom, and living from the heart’s desire….and not being in a hurry to reach a destination but finding joy in the journey. Happy birthday, Greg. When you feel better, we will go celebrate. Happy travels, as you head down the road on your bike, the wind behind you and endless possibilities before you. May joy accompany you.

Gregs bd Texas Roadhouse