When you’re 20 the world (thank you Rich Mullins) is your parking lot.
When you’re 30 you know better.
When you’re 40 you’ve had a crash or two. You live with a regret or three (even if you’ve divorced them).
By the time you reach my age – I turned 50 this past week – you’re happy if the children still remember who you are when they ask you for the car keys and fly off into their own lives.
In my family – the Children’s Mother and I met when we were older – our kids are still young enough to remember Mom and Dad and who gives them their food, and they’re young enough to show that love in the way that both children and lovers do, in that foolish and unadulterated way.
I was the fortunate recipient of this free affection when I arrived at our Hamilton home the other day to find an oversized “50” piñata swinging from the front maple tree and then, in the house, every imaginable “50” decoration from every piece of furniture and in every room, up from the floor, down from the ceiling, balloons of every colour, this sort of birthday paraphenelia everywhere.
The kids had apparently walked to the Party Store.
And there they apparently laid out a bit over $80, apparently every crumpled bill and last coin they could find, and said, “give us everything you have.”
This is what happens when children are children, when they’re free to show that foolish love, the sort talked about by Jesus when he said that you’ll never touch and taste and fully experience the Kingdom of Heaven unless you become like a child.
After I got over this remarkable fact, that the Children’s Mother had nothing do with any of this, that she didn’t even know that these three young souls had cracked open their piggy banks to pull off this birthday job for Dad, then all of us — Mother with camera in hand — went out to the front yard.
And there I took an old Louisville Slugger, an old baseball bat that’s surely as old as I am, and, blindfolded, on my second hit, burst that piñata open and sent candy flying everywhere, the kids, in full laughter, in hot pursuit of it.
The other 50th birthday note is that I now have a new wedding ring.
My son bought it for me.
I’ve been without a wedding ring for quite some time, over a year. I somehow lost my last ring in a bathroom in, of all places, a Hamilton hotel.
So Jon and Hannah and I were in a trinket shop in Sauble Beach the other day.
“Dad, you need a wedding ring. I’d like to buy you a wedding ring,” is what Jon said. “For your birthday.”
So he did.
The ring was $12.
This, also from his piggy bank. Yes, Jon bought me a sharp looking, rather striking silver and black ring made of stainless steel that fits perfectly.
Twelve bucks. That’s $22 less than the wedding ring I had before this one. That was Ring #3.
Ring #3 was a fine looking piece that had been purchased it at a small shop in Uganda some years ago before it was lost in that Hamilton hotel. (I still suspect the cleaning lady.)
Twelve bucks is $8 less than the price of Ring #2, which I had bought at an Indian trinket shop in New Mexico. I lost it somewhere in the country of Uganda some years ago. I know it’s somewhere in that country, but not much more.
Faithful reader might recall that my original wedding ring, Ring #1, which was the ring of all rings, a gold and diamond and invaluable ring that was put on my finger by My Bride on our wedding day, was a very dear and costly and unique looking band that I loved greatly.
After I was revived from code blue – this took some months – I did learn, something (besides to take your ring off when swimming in a lake.)
I learned that a wedding ring does not make a marriage any more than a wedding makes a marriage. Yes, you can have a great looking ring and rather hopeless marriage as much as you can have a rather hopeless ring (and a hopeless habit of losing rings) and a very fine marriage.
But then when on a certain summer day a little boy stands at the counter at some beachside shop and buys his father a new wedding ring for his birthday, well …
The Old Man really must be more careful …
Or a ring tattoo might be his only option.