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I do not remember even a single birthday celebration from my childhood!
by Charlie Leck
During the next year, I’ll finish up my seventh decade of life. I’m 69 years old today and I’m wondering constantly about how it all happened so quickly, without me noticing or sensing that the years were flying by so rapidly and so beneath the radar.
“What?” I want to say. “What?”
“How could it have happened? Where did they go?”
I try to go back – back to childhood – back to the town where I grew up – to remember birthday celebrations. I think, perhaps, that remembering will help me slow up this elapsed time, so that I might see some of the dimensions of it and savor something of it.
I cannot remember a single birthday celebration. Not one single cake or candle! Not one moment of celebration! Not one pile of gifts!
I remember sparkling Christmas mornings with decorated trees and mountains of gifts. I remember Easter egg hunts and huge chocolate bunnies. And, I remember many Thanksgiving gatherings and the feasts that came with them. There are no birthday celebrations tucked away in my memory – not even a single one!
So, my memoirs can contain no stories about birthdays. So, even now, I do not encourage birthday acknowledgements. There seems nothing to celebrate. Why would one observe the rapid passing of one year after another or the violent pushing of one’s life closer and closer to the brink of eternity? No, I do not to enjoy these anniversaries of my birth and I do not encourage them.
It is not a matter of fear. I am not afraid of these advancing years and what inevitably must happen at the end of them. I just want their passing to happen more slowly and gently, so that I might savor the moments that go by less hurriedly.
Time seems to be the mighty foe that will not allow moments to be savored. Wait! There is so much yet I wish to do. So many books to read. So many stories to write. So many memories to recapture. So much laughter of children yet to hear. Why need I rush through all these joyous moments?
There seems no manners in the passage of time.
The days merely rush through my quiet moments
And brush them rudely and roughly aside without care,
Forcing days to clumsily tumble one upon the other.
I am pushed to the brink and forced to look forward
Because there is not the time remaining to look back
So casually and thoughtfully as I would like,
To review moments that were so precious in my life.
I too, against all the disbelief you might summon up
Was once just a soft skinned, swaddled babe
Who could not possibly and so quickly add these years
That have led me here and so near these quiet, final days.