The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Happy Birthdays

Today is my mom’s birthday. Martha Catherine Cavanaugh was born on June 28, 1909 in Fairfield, Connecticut. My dad, John Joseph McCarthy, was born on July 24 of the same year in Springfield, Massachusetts. Both, then, were born within a few weeks of each other 111 years ago. Although Mom died in 1977 at the age of 67, Dad lived for many more years and died in 2005 at the age of 95. So, it's only fitting I wish them both a Happy 111th Birthday. 

Mom and Dad enjoying a beer in the 1950s
I don't know why, but there's something about 111 that seems rather special to me. I've always liked numbers, so I suppose it just the repeating 1s. Of course, having parents who were born 111 years ago also reminds me of the fact that I'm getting on in age. Indeed, as I recall my own life I think of those birthdays that have special meaning.

As for my childhood birthdays, I don't recall any being very memorable. But my 16th birthday was different. With it came the ability to apply for the sought after driver’s license, bringing mobility and freedom, along with enhanced dating opportunities. 

Turning 18 meant only two things in suburban New York back in 1962: I could buy a beer for 15 cents at McGarvey’s, a local pub, and I could now drive in The City. The former was pretty cool but the latter was something only a fool would do. 
By the way, McGarvey's was actually just a bar, but some of us thought it would be much classier if we called it a pub. 

I suppose the 21st birthday is special in another way. On that day the child suddenly considers himself an adult, even if he prefers not to act like one. And in New York back then, you could drink a beer at 18, but had to be 21 to vote. Now the opposite is true. I prefer the former.

Actually, my 23rd birthday was rather special because I first met Dear Diane just three days later on a blind date. Hard to believe that happy day was almost 53 years ago. I took her to a football game, with the Navy Pensacola team, the Goshawks, quarterbacked by Roger Staubach. We then went to a rowdy party and I didn't get her home until waaaay too late.

The 30th, another coming-of-age birthday, marks one’s arrival at an age that separates youth from all the rest. Yes, indeed, once you’ve joined the over-30 crowd, there’s no going back. By then, however, Diane and I already had three children and I was enjoying my career in the Navy. My youth was long past. 

When I reached 40, I tried to ignore it, but my friends threw a surprise birthday party simply to remind me of the arrival of middle age. As I recall the party had an almost funereal theme, lots of black decorations and stupid gag gifts.

But there’s something very real and slightly ominous about turning 50. I suppose it’s the half-century thing and knowing that the larger part of one’s life is in the past. 

I was too busy during my 50s and 60s to pay much attention to birthdays, although I’ll admit 75 came as a bit of a shock last year. It just crept up on me and took me by surprise. 

I haven’t a clue how many birthdays I have left, but it’s not a big number. Birthdays are like reverse milestones: we know how far we've gone, but have no idea how far we've got to go. I'm certain of only one thing. Like my parents I won't live to 111. 

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