Monday, 21 July 2014

My Wish Fulfilled

Fifty-nine years ago today, in a sleepy little provincial outpost on the western shores of Canada, in a town dedicated to government and the local naval station, I was born; July 21, 1955. I am one of the millions born in that self-absorbed generation known as the Baby Boomers. In fact I was born halfway through the baby boom; late enough that the demands for everything were already on the rise, along with prices to match, yet early enough that the bigger schools, new curriculum and better books always seemed to be coming a year after I needed them.

There was no media explosion announcing my arrival; no paparazzi standing by the door waiting for a picture. I was born an ordinary child in an ordinary time in an ordinary way. My father, as was custom for the time, wasn't in the room, helping my Mom along the way in her second delivery. At least he was in port; when my brother Adam was born, my Dad was in Australia, away at sea with the Canadian Navy. In the 1950's, our society had successfully medicalized childbirth, taking it from a family event to a doctor and nurse event. In that hospital room, surrounded by people she barely knew, my Mom, at age 23, delivered her second of five sons, the remaining three to follow me in quick succession.

Now, fifty-nine years later, I am supposed to be celebrating, supposed to have a "Happy Birthday". Parts of my body are 59; other parts feel a whole lot older. Still in many ways I am very happy, surprisingly happy. You would not think that a man struggling against illness and pain, having lost so much and seeing so much yet to lose, would consider himself happy. I can tell you there are moments, sometimes whole days, when I am not happy, when I wish this whole process would be over. I can also tell you that there are a great many more days when I find joy and pleasure in so much that is around me. My birthday will be happy, because I want to be happy, because I will find the reasons for happiness in this day, and in all days until my last.

I am not much on birthday wishes. Mine have never come true, mostly because I consistently wish for the impractical and impossible, wanting what I cannot have. I can wish for a cure for ALS, not just for me but for all PALS. I can wish for the aches and pains to stop. I can wish to walk and run. None of this will happen. Instead I will enjoy the company of friends and family this week. That will be my wish fulfilled.

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