has been my birthday since
the day I was born
I was born 62 years ago today.
Hard to believe that I have made through 62 years, but I have always accepted that my guardian angels rack up a lot of overtime.
Like that moment I talk about when, standing behind a parked van waiting to cross a street, I didn’t bother to look and started walking out into the street.
My brain gave the command to start but for some reason my legs refused to move.
It was as if, I felt at the time, someone had a hold of my coat and I was frozen for a second.
Then a car went zooming past inches in front of me.
A car I had never seen coming.
I had never bothered to peek around the corner of that van.
Had my legs worked, I would have been a greasy spot on Lyon Street with no one to blame but myself.
I don’t go all Maradona-hand of God here but something, someone held me back.
BUT I DIGRESS.
I know the story of the day of birth.
I know it because it was told so often.
Not sure why, but in a family of 11 kids, it was my birthday that got talked about.
It was a Sunday in July and earlier that weekend, my Mom felt good enough to decide to have a big Sunday dinner.
Even with me on the way at any minute and seven kids already there, she also invited my Uncle Bud’s family to come over as well.
It was so exciting that I decided I wanted to show up but before my Mom and Dad went off to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, my Mom called my Aunt Marion and told to her please still to come over after church that morning and could she get dinner on the table?
So it was that a little bit later that afternoon my Dad came home to see all his kids and guests around the Sunday Dinner table and announced, “It’s a boy!”
Many is the time my Aunt Marion would sit with me in our kitchen and point down the back hallway and say, ‘I can still see your Dad coming in, one hand raised in kind of a salute, saying, it’s a boy!’
My four brothers, now with a clear majority, cheered.
My three sisters, hoping for a fifty-fifty split all cried.
At least that is the story that was told as long as I can remember.
As for name, Mike, that had been picked out for years.
When my brother Tim had been born in 1956, he had been named Mike for a couple days.
Family history has it that when my Dad went down to fill out the paper work, he had one more look at the new baby and said, “Nope, he’s not a Mike.” and filled out the birth certificate for Timothy John Hoffman.
‘We will save Mike for the next one,’ Dad told Mom.
What Mom was thinking about ‘the next one’ at that moment has not been recorded.
And the next one was a girl, my sister Lisa.
But four years later, I showed up on that Sunday and my Dad took one look and said, ‘That’s a Mike.’
Since that day I have learned that there is something to that.
Think about it and I am sure there is in your life ‘a Mike.’
When folks tell me they chose the name Mike for a new baby, I shake my head and say, ‘You’ll be sorry.’
Mike Mike Mike, there is just something about the name and what can I say as it seems to be more of a label for what’s in the jar rather than just a name on the jar.
So July 17, 1960, to quote, Mr. Dickens’, I am born.
Born to cheers and tears and a used first name that would not have fit with anyone else in my family.
What a long strange trip it’s been … so far.
Mr. Dickens’ writes in his book David Copperfield:
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
I will have to look up what being born on a Sunday at Noon means.
I have been a lot of things in life, but I can’t call unlucky one of them.
I hope I am smart enough to both enjoy the sunshine of God’s benevolence in my life as well as smart enough to not question my good fortune.
Because, you see George, I really have had a wonderful life.