Friday, July 27, 2012

Cousin Ricky - He Said
Twenty-six years ago I drove my wife to the emergency room. For the next eight hours we played backgammon while waiting for her condition to improve. It didn’t. The pain became unbearable so they gave her drugs. This helped some but not enough. My parents were in Atlantic City, gambling. Hers in Charlotte. So there we were, a young couple facing our first life or death moment without friends or family nearby.
I forget what I wore that day. A surf shirt, probably. I do recall wearing a white headband with the word “Coach” printed in blue marker. I guess I was a good coach because later that evening we won (she delivered) a baby boy, our first, and they let us take him home.
Birthdays are a big deal in our family. Not as big as Christmas, but close. And nobody in my extended family does a better job of celebrating birthdays than my cousin Ricky.
A typical “Cousin Ricky” birthday box includes a specially mixed CD with songs from the year you were born, DVD movies tailored to your tastes, toys from the Dollar store and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Sometimes the candy has melted by the time the box arrives, but that’s okay. Chocolate in any condition and shape is good.
In the past I’ve received a plastic whistle with a compass in order to ward of bears and keep me from getting lost on the trails above Black Mountain, tons of old Westerns, several copies of the movie Jaws (in case the player eats one), CDs with music from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc… and candy. Lots and lots of candy.
The writer of Ecclesiastes advises us to enjoy all our years – not just those early ones when people were making a fuss over us. Too often we adults discount birthdays and other days and pretend they’re not a big deal. But they are. Every day is huge. If you don’t think so, try living without one.
I wish every family had a Cousin Ricky. I wish I cared about people as much as Ricky. None of us knows how many years we’ll have together but it seems to me, setting aside one day out of 365 to acknowledge the life of someone we love is a small testimony to their worth.
The next time a friend or family member has a birthday, give him or her a song from their good old days and a box of candy. The shipping will probably cost more than the gift but that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts.
And thoughts of love are priceless.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. - Ecclesiastes 11:8


  1. This brought tears to my sleep-deprived eyes (I'm helping with the grandbabies...). Whenever someone complains about getting older on their birthday, I gently remind them that every birthday is a gift. How my own daughter would have loved to get past her 24th, but that was not in God's plan. We all need to celebrate everyone's birthday whether they are in a highchair or a wheelchair. Thanks for the reminder to us all.

    1. In this technological age when you can wish almost anyone a Happy Birthday on Facebook, sending cards and buying gifts has gone by the wayside. As an adult I got tired of no one celebrating MY birthday and now at least every other year I do a "birthday adventure" with some close friends. Dinner, a show, shopping or something fun where we get to laugh and connect because I don't need more stuff (and definitely NOT candy!)but because people are important and in the busy stuff of life, having time to play is often overlooked. But I may need to send some candy to a few people in the next few weeks as well!