Just a few of the cards sent by friends and relatives. God bless you all.

Just a few of the cards sent by friends and relatives. God bless you all.

Today is my birthday.

I am now 65. I know reaching 65 is very meaningful to many people and to others it is just another birthday. No big deal.

Well, it is very meaningful to me for a couple reasons:

  • No male member of three generations of the Aldridge/Dolan family ever managed to reach their 57th birthday
  • I have pancreatic cancer and for some time now, I have celebrated every day as a birthday.

When I turned 57 Patti threw me a birthday party to end all parties. To this day I remember fully the hangover I had the next day. But even with a headache, just waking up the day after I reached 57 was such a blessing.

The men in my family were mostly smokers. Most of them died of heart-related reasons. Certainly, the smoking didn’t help.

But, for me, reaching age 65, is a special event. I get to think about the wonderful things that have happened since I turned age 57, even to this day:

  • Patti and I got to celebrate our 30-year marriage this July
  • I spent some time working for a wonderful company in Chicago, The Segal Company
  • Patti and I, at first, were kicking and screaming about moving to Chicago for me to take the job with Segal. We just didn’t want to go to Chicago
  • Once we got to Chicago, we absolutely loved it. In six months, we used our car twice
  • We got to tour architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and work area in Oak Park
  • My diagnosis came when we were in Chicago, and soon everything changed
  • We moved to Dallas and lived on a horse ranch and I began holistic treatments for the cancer
  • One day the ranch manager abruptly left the ranch and Patti and I spent three weeks feeding and watering 80 horses three times a day
  • We managed a couple of tourist trips through the West, enjoying Colorado, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho and Utah. As a gift from our friend, Joe, Patti and I got to go to the Master’s Golf Tournament, and we toured several Southern attractions, including writer William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak home, Selma, Savannah, Charleston and the PGA museum in Jacksonville
  • There is something about seeing Mt. Rushmore that will lift the spirits of even the most downcast person — in my opinion it is a very emotional experience
  • Got to see Devil’s Tower for the second time. The first time was when I worked one summer for my dad in Wyoming. We went to the tower one weekend, and it was great being a tourist with my dad
  • On one of the trips, Patti and I got to see Custer’s last stand and the battleground. It helped me remember some of the games my young friends and I would play in the wide open, flat spaces of New Mexico, building forts out of tumbleweeds and getting dirty in cowboy/Indian games
  • We¬†discovered that even a guy tethered to a walker can enjoy the Grand Canyon — majestic
  • While in Dallas, I managed to rediscover my spirituality and faith in Jesus and God. That was so fulfilling to me and I celebrate the ability to grow my faith and devotion to our Savior
  • To be closer to family, Patti and I moved from the Dallas ranch to a house in south Austin
  • It has been pure joy watching my son, JD, grow as a young man, gain maturity and return to college
  • We got to spend more time with our daughter, Casey, and her boyfriend, Rick
  • I was just overwhelmed and ecstatic when I got to walk Casey down the aisle to marry Rick. That was truly one of the best days of my life, especially getting to dance with her and Patti, and many others
  • Patti and I got the chance to renew friendships, acquaintances and even meet and enjoy complete strangers
  • We explored more of Austin’s restaurants, including a few that serve my favorite — oysters on the half shell
  • While we lost Patti’s brother, Bill, and dad and my mother, we continue to reflect on their lives and great memories
  • In March this year, Rick and Casey welcomed their first child, a little girl named Grayson Mae Reed. She is such a beautiful young child with a great smile, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to spend time with her
  • I probably have shared with you just a few of the wonderful events; there likely are a lot more
  • For me, every day that I get to wake up and spend time with Patti is the most spectacular day of my life and I thank God and His son for their blessings.

The picture that goes with this posting is quite remarkable. They are birthday cards from friends and relatives who, unbeknownst to me, were notified by a little birdie (Casey) about my pending birthday. I want to thank all of you who sent cards. One of my former roommates, Richard, sent copies of old photos when I had hair and we spent time together. Also, Mike, a good friend from Maryland, sent a spiral-bound copy of his favorite jokes that he has accumulated over the years.

Again, thank you for the cards, well wishes and prayers. I hope you get to celebrate every day as a birthday. God bless you all!