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April 26, 2011 7:07 am

AMEND CORNER: Once in a lifetime

Written by Don Amend

Don Amend Don Amend

Last Sunday was a rare occurrence.

Easter Sunday fell on April 24, a date it hasn’t occupied since 1859. In fact, according to a website I found, it’s only the fifth time Easter has fallen on that date since the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Now normally, I wouldn’t have paid much attention this sort of trivia, but April 24 is a date of some significance, at least for me, in that it happens to be my birthday. I don’t usually take much note of my birthday, but celebrating it on Easter Sunday was literally a once in a lifetime experience. I was born a lot more recently than 1859, and I’m pretty sure I won’t make it until the next time Easter lands on 4/24 in 2095.

Anyway, since this coincidence of dates has caused me to pay abnormal attention to my birthday this year, I figured it would be a good topic to fill this space this week.

This is why we have replaced the usual mug shot accompanying this column with a somewhat younger — by at least 35 years — me. This picture, one of the last to be taken of me without a mustache, was unearthed by my wife some weeks ago, and Tessa the editor thought it would be fun to run it with my column sometime. Sometime, I guess, is this issue, although I’m not sure who it’s going to be fun for. It does, however, fit into where I’m going with this column.

About the time this picture was taken, I was involved in a teacher workshop, during which I was asked, among other things, what the happiest time of my life had been.

Well, at the time, I had a daughter who was on the verge of entering kindergarten, and she could hardly wait to get there and learn to read. I also had a son who was just learning to walk and talk. They were a lot of fun.

Everything wasn’t totally rosy, understand. During that time both Karen and I lost our fathers, and our family budget was tight. Add to that the usual stresses of parenthood and teaching school, and I had plenty of reasons to be discontented. Still, I was enjoying my family and my job, and life was pretty good, so I had a ready answer to the question.

My happiest time was right then.

Well, now we are grandparents, and coincidently, the families of both our son and daughter are like ours, each with a big sister and a little brother. Both big sisters are about a year away from kindergarten. The older of them is already reading, and my daughter, a reading teacher, thinks her daughter is on the verge of reading as well. The boys are talking, sometimes in complete sentences, and are busy being boys, learning such skills as how to throw toys across the room and aggravate their sisters.

Sunday afternoon, my son’s two kids delivered a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday” over the phone, and my daughter’s two followed suit that evening. As a bonus, that granddaughter sang a song about a butterfly that she “wrote” yesterday, and I heard first-hand accounts of two Easter egg hunts.

Just as back in the ‘70s, things are not just the way we would want them. Our families live far away, and a move that will take my son’s family even further away is imminent. Unlike back in the ‘70s, we don’t have any big financial problems, but we are aging, and we know there are unpleasant experiences lurking down the road.

Still, as I observed my birthday, I realized that I don’t have much to complain about. I’ve been fortunate to have led a pleasant and happy life. And celebrating my temporal life on the Day of Resurrection reminded me that I’m all set for eternity as well.

So if I were once again asked about the happiest time of my life, my answer would be the same as it was 35 years ago. The happiest time in my life is still right now.

After all, right now is a once in a lifetime experience.

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