Today is my birthday.
5 years ago on this day I was at Laity Lodge, enjoying the warm Texas sun, the beautiful Frio River, and one of my favorite places in the world, an art installation called Threshold. Since Laity Lodge has no cell reception and very limited wi-fi, I used a little landline telephone room to call home and speak with my family.
My husband and children all wished me a happy birthday. Then Bud said, “Your brother Stewart called to wish you a happy birthday. I told him that you would call him when you got home.”
Ten days later — long after I had gotten home and had plenty of time to return that call — on Ash Wednesday, I received a call from my sister telling me that Stewart had had a heart attack and died.
I think about that every year on my birthday.
I never returned his call.
I never heard his voice again.
My kids have been asking what I want for my birthday, and, honestly, I couldn’t think of a thing. My father used to tell me that I was the richest person he knew. Then he would laugh and add, “And maybe some day you’ll have money.”
I am rich.
But this morning I was thinking about what I want most for my birthday. I know what it is now.
I want you to make that call you’ve been meaning to make.
Stop in to visit that person you’ve been meaning to see.
Drop a line to an old friend.
Mend a fence.
Build a bridge.
Life is so short.
This morning, as I sat at the table with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun (my birthday treat for myself), I opened my computer to begin writing this post —
–when I heard a terrible crash from my father’s room.
I ran in and found him on the floor.
“Dad, Dad,” I called, as I patted his cheeks and tried to get a response, but his eyes were open and fixed, and he was unresponsive.
My husband and son carried him back to bed. When he came around and was semi-conversant, he wanted to go eat breakfast, but he barely made it to the door before he had a repeat episode.
And then a third one a little later.
I write this from the Emergency Room.
He has been awake, but he doesn’t remember anything that happened this morning.
They’re running tests.
And I’m spending my birthday with my father. I have no regrets.