Last week I celebrated my birthday. It can now be said, I am over 60! God has seen fit to grant me another year of life and so I think it is appropriate to celebrate.
It all started at the fair Thursday afternoon. While we were there we attended the Petite Miss and Little Miss pageants. The contestant’s name, parents, school, favorite color, favorite person and favorite food were announced. Usually macaroni and cheese or pizza was the favorite food. Would it be frowned upon for a contestant’s favorite food to be collard greens and ribs?
Friday I took the day off from work and my husband took me to lunch. Then we enjoyed a visit to the Rome History Museum. In the window display is a diploma from Main High School. It was in the green binder in which it was originally presented. I read the name on the diploma but didn’t know the man. My good friend, Debbie Galloway, told me that somebody found that diploma in the trash and brought it to the museum. Again I looked at the diploma and wondered if he died and somebody went through his house and got rid of his belongings. That diploma represents the recipient’s hard work. It seemed very disrespectful to toss it into the garbage. Can you believe somebody threw away that diploma?
My birthday celebration continued Saturday night when we went to the Atlanta Rhythm Section concert. We thoroughly enjoyed the concert as well as the people watching beforehand. Most of the concert goers were mid- to late-50s to 60-somethings. Age didn’t matter when the music started. They couldn’t sit still. We had great seats on the fifth row from the front center. We couldn’t sit still. It was a great show. Right on.
Every year on my birthday I reflect on my life and consider all the things in which I am involved, and how I conduct myself. I give serious thought to whether or not I am being the best person I can be. I wonder if I am making a difference with all of the people with whom I steadfastly deal every day. I have numerous great friends, an extraordinary family, a career I enjoy, and good health, and I remember to thank God for it all every day. I thank God for the husband he gave me. I thank God for the parents he gave me — parents who always had time for us and who steadfastly believed in us. I thank God for the children and grandchildren I have, children who always have time for me. And I think of the idyllic childhood I had.
Growing up in Rome, my cultural enrichment came in the form of two things. Dance lessons from Clara Ellison, and piano lessons from Miss Helen Dean Rhodes. I didn’t stick with dance lessons beyond the 2nd grade. However, my piano lessons began when I was in the 3rd grade and continued through my senior year in high school. I remember the piano recitals in the Carnegie Library auditorium. During the school year, when I wasn’t doing homework, or practicing piano, I was riding my 10-speed bicycle all over Rome. My friends and I would ride out to Berry College and back. What great fun we had. My friends were important to me and I always had time for them. Instinctively, I knew that some of them had a difficult home life. I knew how to be there for them. Always I made them laugh.
One year I was at high tea at the Claremont House. I thought Mama would have enjoyed that. I looked around watching everyone enjoying the day, and I thought, “Socially, I am where I always wanted to be and I have everything I ever wanted. I am very happy.” I confided as much to a friend whom I have known my entire life. She said, “Pam! Only a very small percentage of people can honestly say that. Not very many of us are truly happy.”
My daddy had a happy countenance and a zest for life that was contagious to all who were fortunate enough to know him. My son has that same happy spirit. Many times I have mused that my son and I inherited, from Daddy, a “happy gene.” I now have a granddaughter, soon to be 1 year old, who is filled with joy. She has a light in her eye and she laughs often. Clearly, she inherited her great-grandfather’s disposition. Indeed, what a great way to go through life. Filled with joy.
Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a history enthusiast, and an avid reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.