~ SOME IDIOT WHO DIED YOUNG"You're as young as you feel."
Today was, and still is, as it turns out, my birthday. Having survived 69 trips around the host fireball with only a few really close calls, I feel like I've almost accomplished something. It's next year that will be the test!
I had a wonderful day, even considering the nap I took. Two of my local grandkids made it over for a day of celebration, and to partake of the fabulous dinner the girls are preparing. The granddaughters are at homecoming tonight, Venus's last and Angel's second. Angel has to go, of course; she's one of the cheerleaders! But my son, their dad, will be over as soon as he gets off work. Family can't be beat!
Breaking from the steampunk tradition of past years, there was a strong Viking theme to the presents this year. They gave me a leather wristband with a copper battleaxe inlaid into it, a beautiful lacquered box with a Viking dragon tile set into the lid, and a shirt with a big Viking warrior holding up someone's head, and the legend, "THAT WHICH DOESN'T KILL ME... SHOULD RUN!" There were other things as well, but mostly what I got was love, just like always.
Looking back over the journey, I see a life well-lived. Some of the people I grew up with might say wasted, because I never reached the pinnacle of success. I built plastic models for thirty-odd years. I learned some good techniques, and presented in a few shows and competitions. I had a set placed in the old San Diego Aerospace Museum. I never became "America's Top Modeller," and had a photo spread in Fine Scale Modeller magazine, but you know what? I had a good time.
I was a wargamer for thirty years, cutting my teeth on Avalon-Hill's Gettysburg, and progressing through the hobby right up through the same company's Squad Leader. I lost more games than I won, but some of those wins were spectacular, and made it all worthwhile. I''ve led the Army of Northern Virginia up Cemetery Hill, the Afrika Korps across the Sahara, and ships of both sides into the dangerous waters around Midway, and I have to say that, win or lose, I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.
I've been an author of various forms and at various levels for 59 of those years. I never achieved the success of a Stephen King or a J.K. Rowling, but I have books for sale on Amazon, and strangers have bought them and reviewed them favorably. To me, that's success, and just the right amount. I've proven I can do this thing that I love, and do it well, yet haven't had to give up any substantial portion of my personal life or private time. Perfect!
For fifty years I worked, nearly all of it in service to America, first in the Navy, then as a civilian employee of the Navy. I am proud to say that I was loyal to my country when it was cool to burn draft cards. Again, not the huge career that would cause you to find my name in the history books, but I always gave my best, and my only regret is that I couldn't do better.
Most importantly, for over forty years I have been a husband and father. I had to fight a street gang for my children, and a horrible, debilitating disease for my wife. Together, we succeeded. My children are successful members of society, and my wife is the respected matriarch of an extended family that spans half a continent. You can do a lot worse than that.
So here I am, not famous, not rich, not noteworthy for any particular accomplishment, yet I stand here proud and say I have had a very good life. There have been heartbreaks, there have been setbacks, there have been tragedies, as there are in all lives, but we have met them all with courage and a sense of humor and perspective, and we have persevered and triumphed. One thing I've learned through it all is that tomorrow's going to be another day, and all you have to do is be there to enjoy it.
I could go on like this for hours, but a nice monologue slides into a boring sermon with startling suddenness, and I've made my point. Be honorable, courageous, and seek the joy in all things, and though your life may not be perfect, you'll find plenty to appreciate. Now that you all know the Great Cosmic Secret, go forth and conquer! I'll see you next week.
All the best in all things always,