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July 2, 1999

August is the birth month I share with several friends, and it will be here all too soon. Some of us Leos were born in the same year (I'll not say which one for fear it would embarrass them), but only one of them that I know of was born on "my" day of the month (and again I'll refrain from revealing which one because we would not want you to feel that you have to shower us with cards.) I have had so many of these natal celebrations that they no longer bother me, except when I stop and really think about it.

As a matter of fact, no birthday has disturbed my peace of mind since the 21st came along. That was really traumatic, however. It made me realize I was growing old! I could vote, for heaven's sake. By then, I had already served almost three years in the Army of the United State during wartime and I thought that gave me all the maturity I would ever need. But the idea of being 21 years old simply summoned visions of the Grim Reaper standing by, waiting to gather me in. I was a very callow lad.

Well, of course I survived that, and it apparently was a good catharsis. No birthdays since then, even those that truly marked milestones, have been hard to take. I guess it's good to get that purging taken care of as soon as possible. What brought up this line of thought is a welcome contribution received in the mail the other day from a longtime friend, who happens to be about my age. Here's what he clipped from something and sent along to me:

"Things do change when you hit 70 (years). For instance: I get winded playing bridge. My spouse asks why I'm not moving when the light has changed to green. My knees buckle but my belt won't. Sometimes I feel like the morning after when I didn't have a night before. The driver's test is more threat than nuisance. Someone asked why I would choose to become involved in so much at my age. I concluded that it's the earliest age I have left."

If you're from the right generation, you'll probably agree that those are valid points and you doubtless can add a few of your own. If August is your birth month, too, here's a Happy Birthday wish for you. Enjoy your cake and ice cream, after you blow out the candles, however many they may be.

No, matter what your new age is going to be, consider it a bonus. The cemetery is full of friends and family who, sadly enough, are no longer with us. Many of them departed this earth before they were through playing with the grandkids or taking care of important business matters on their "To Do" list. It's up to us to make the most of what we have left. Then we can ponder all that has been allotted to us. Laura's Mom, our houseguest now, has had a full life and she will be 103 come October. There are still things she'd like to do and some memories to cherish in quiet hours. Every now and then, when she momentarily forgets her age, we'll tell her she's 102. Her usual response is, "I can't believe I'm that old." Guess that sums it up pretty well for all of us.