By A. Ray Lee
I had another birthday slip by recently. It would have been unnoticed had it not been for my children.
At my age I give thanks as one day flows into another. When I was growing up on the farm as a kid, it was just another day spent picking scrap cotton after a day at school or getting in the last of the corn crop and sometimes cutting green fire wood to supplement that which had been seasoning since late summer.
The only recognition of the occasion was to receive one swat on the bottom for each year of age and a final “one to grow on.”
This year my children felt I was spending too much time alone. They decided to combine a birthday celebration with Thanksgiving since my birthday came two days after the holiday.
Laura drove me to Florence for a Thanksgiving meal and visit with Scott, Jenny and a group of grandchildren, including Web, Adelaide, Henry, Evie and Caleb. Seth was unable to be present.
After the traditional meal, I dozed in a comfortable chair, hardly aware of the conversations and interactions of grown siblings who had come home for the occasion.
Late in the afternoon, Laura and I returned to Lee Road for a visit with Clint and Deidra at granddaughter Lynsey’s new house. Josh was present, along with Deidra’s mother Stephanie and her sister Tammye’s family.
Another delicious meal had been prepared, but I was still full from the late lunch and only ate sparingly.
Then I moved to a chair near a large window and watched darkness descend outside as the party around me picked up steam. Soon Clint moved to my side, and we talked of birthdays past – for his is only three weeks after mine.
Deer season had opened a few days earlier, and Lynsey had killed a nice seven point. It was her second buck.
It reminded Clint of his first deer, taken on his 12th birthday. The sound of the dogs and the blast of the little Youth edition 20-gauge continue to echo in our minds.
Since that long ago December morning, Clint and I have shared many hunts – both of us have trophy racks or our walls – but no deer has been as special as that one we brought out of the woods that day.
The visits of the day had been long overdue. Because of illnesses, family tragedies and COVID, it had been five long years since the last time we were all able to get together.
Soon fatigue overtook me, and I asked Laura to bring me back home, where one last surprise awaited me.
All I ever really wanted for my birthday was one of Effie’s German chocolate cakes, which she had lovingly made each year. When I entered the house, one of her cakes was on the dining room table.
Before retiring for the night, I ate a piece and found it just as moist and delicious as the ones her mother used to bake. Then I climbed in bed and breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for a loving and gracious Father.