Friday, June 16, 2017

Hitting 70, and not speeding

     No problem turning 70 today. It happens to most people my age.
     Grateful for another birthday. They are all special, but the ones that end in zero are more meaningful, I suppose.
June 2017: The greatest joys of life today for Bea and me:
 Josie (9 1/2), Jacob (8), Kaden (6) and Eli (2 1/2).
     The feeling most prevalent today is gratitude. Mostly for my family -- Beatrice, the kids, the grandkids, my sister and her family. But also for my friends -- many as old or older than I am -- and for the journey, the road I've traveled. 
     It is a long way from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to Fort Worth, Texas, USA. It has been quite a ride.
     I was thinking about the "zero" birthdays. Here is a review:
      At 10 (1957), we had been in the U.S. for 17 months, I was headed for fifth grade, and we were 18 days from moving to the first home my parents ever owned -- in the Sunset Acres neighborhood in Shreveport.
At 20, student assistant in sports
information at Louisiana Tech.
      At 20 (1967), I was a junior-to-be at Louisiana Tech University, working summers for The Shreveport Times -- covering American Legion baseball and some nights helping on the sports desk, editing copy and writing headlines. We were in our last year in Sunset Acres; my parents soon moved to South Broadmoor.
       • At 30 (1977), Bea and I had been married four months and 10 days; I was "Daddy Nito" to 3-year-old Jason, and I was the sports information director at Centenary College, publicity contact for the Shreveport Captains' baseball team, and a parttimer for the Shreveport Journal sports department.
      At 40 (1987), I was near the end of 5 1/2 really good years as executive sports editor for the Shreveport Journal, a fun, productive time professionally, a struggle personally (that's all you need to know). Bea and my old friend Casey -- we went through school together from Sunset Acres through Tech; he will be 70 late next month -- arranged to have a sign put up in front of the Chateau Hotel announcing that I was 40.
     At 50 (1997), I was in my second year on the Knoxville News-Sentinel sports staff after six-plus years in Jacksonville and Orange Park, Fla. We loved the Knoxville years, and Rachel found a university (Tennessee), a home, and a husband and his family there.
    At 60 (2007), I was halfway through an 11-year stint in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports department -- the most fulfilling, rewarding job I had (and it was my last job). We were four months from becoming grandparents for the first  time.
     At 70 (2017), retired for 4 1/2 years and happy to be so. Still a writer (when I feel like it) -- a book writer, even --  and, as always, a deeply devoted sports fan. But I'm not as avid a sports fan as I was for most of my life and certainly much more cynical.
     Back to gratitude. It is the fifth year of my daily gratitude journal, which is -- believe me -- a daily exercise in positivity. (It's true, no matter what is going on in our country and the world.)
     Gratitude, too, for relatively good health. There are a few extra pounds, but only a few, and I do know now what a high triglycerides count means (but I had to look up how to spell triglycerides).
     The doctor and I agreed that I need to eat more wisely -- stop snacking after the early evening meal -- and keep exercising.
     There is enough energy for daily walks and regular yoga/stretching classes at the downtown Y, and there is still motivation for writing and researching (working on a couple of sports-related projects now).
     Don't much like driving any more, so the out-of-town trips are fewer and more taxing. But we find plenty to do in town. Just this week: grocery shopping (four stores), a bookstore stop, a jazz concert, a museum visit, a financial consultation, and birthday meal celebrations.
Our grown-up kids: Jason and Rachel
     That's plural celebrations because Rachel brought the two Smith grandchildren here from Tennessee for a four-day stay last week and Jason brought the two Key boys from Prosper -- they are an hour-and-a-half from us -- and so it was multiple meals.
     For me -- and I know Bea agrees -- the greatest joy these days is those grandchildren. We don't see enough of them, although FaceTime helps. They are such a delight, and I know many of our old friends have the same feeling about their families.    
     We are proud of the lives our kids have built, and we have such hopes for those grandchildren.
     One of those hopes is that we are around to see what becomes of them. Reality is that we will be fortunate to have one more birthday ending in a zero. Having two more, reaching 90, is not a likely possibility (my parents went to 89 and 88).
     For now, it is one lovely day at a time. We'll see where we are at 71.


  1. Happy Birthday, young man. Blessings to you and your family, and prayers for as many more as you wish and need.
    Sydney Boone

  2. From Ed English: Great read.
    However, when talking about birthdays ending in “0,” I always have to share a story from a colleague at the Memphis Press-Scimitar, Jack Brennan. (Jack is also a Longhorn and just retired after the last NFL season as the Cincinnati Bengals’ PR director for about 20 years.)
    Back at the Press-Scimitar, somebody was bemoaning the approach of a 30th birthday. Jack ambled over to the conversation and said he’d overhead someone say that 30 is not the “bad” one. The really bad one was “31.” The reason was that when you turned 30, you were like a ship leaving the dock. Sure there was water in front of you, but you could turn around and see the shoreline (metaphorically your 20s) very clearly.
    However, when you turned 31 and turned around, all you could see was water.
    So as you celebrate your 70th birthday, let me just say it ain’t that bad ... 71 ... now that’s the bad one.

  3. From Tommy Youngblood (Fair Park, LSU, now Highland Park): I turn 70 on Saturday. You said everything well enough on gratitude. Lots of boys and girls we knew didn't make it near this far. Amazing.

  4. From Bob Basinger: Happy Birthday! I'm not nearly as old (8/29/47) as you but can somewhat relate to your sentiments. Grateful is a very applicable description of life for both Marcia and me.
    We just returned from a Disney World vacation with our three kids and six grandkids. Very grateful we could all be together.
    Also grateful that we have stayed in touch all these years. Always good to hear from you ... well, usually.

  5. From Ronny Walker: Happy No. 70, my friend. With those “grands” surrounding you and Bea, how much better does it get! However, I say, “The best is yet to come.”

  6. From Sandi Atkinson: Happy Birthday. I love that you went by decades to hit the "zero" birthdays. I may do that for my children when my October birthday comes around.
    You are so right about grandchildren, although I got a lengthy start on that joy. I was a grandmother at 37 years old. Now I'm a great-grandmother and that is even more of a joy.

  7. From John Henry: I think you're too stubborn not to make 90. Happy birthday.

  8. From Jason Brown: Happy Birthday, buddy. Hope it's as majestic as an Aaron Judge home run.

  9. From Mary Palmer Strange: Wishing you the happiest of birthdays. Great blog post and a wonderful picture. Love the t-shirt -- 100 percent positivity!

  10. From Sylvia Pesek: Happy Birthday, kiddo! I'm 11 months ahead of you. And that really IS a terrific t-shirt. Fred Rogers is an American hero, for sure.
    That's a beautiful bevy of grandkids, too!

  11. From Jerry Adams: What can I say -- nothing more than I'm glad you were born, and I can say you have been a good friend for a long time, and I hope for a while longer. Hope you have a great birthday. Now get back to writing.

  12. From Meade Patton: 70???? Oh, Lerd! How old does that make me???? I knew you when I was young and dumb, at least now I'm older and dumber.
    (Happy Birthday, old friend!)

  13. From Heleen Borgenicht Kopuit: 70, I can't believe it. And still a lot of years to go, at least 50. Happy birthday and 70 kisses from your far-away cousin.

  14. From Gerry Robichaux: Hope this is a great day for you and you have many more 'cause I like the way you write!

  15. From Stan Tiner: Happy birthday. It's been an honor to be your friend for a good many of your 70 years. Seventy. Kind of hard to believe.

  16. From Butch Williams: Happy birthday to my favorite sportswriter. You can feel good about the success you had during your tenure in this job.

  17. From Ron Hill: Happy birthday and God bless. I am currently reading your book about your parents and was honored to read one of your mom's poems at our Shavuot service.

  18. From Bob Hodge: Happy Birthday to one of the few copy editors who ever had to pull a dog's nose out of a tree's crotch.

  19. From Bea Van Thyn: Happy birthday, Sweetheart. Seventy years and counting and we have spent most of them together. It is really true, "Time Slips Away" while we are occupied with day-to-day living. Thank you for all the years, months and days we have traveled this journey together. The jazz concert last evening was delightful. I look forward to this afternoon at the Kimbell Art Museum. As we age together, I look back on our years with a sort of wonder. We have done so much and been so far in ways we could not have projected. Spending time with our children and grandchildren as we did last week is the most special of all our celebrations. Today is not only the first day of your 71st year, but the first day of the rest of your life. It is up to us to continue to make life the adventure it has been to date. "What a Difference a Day Makes." I offer this toast to you, to this day and each day of this portion of your journey.

  20. From Elsa Van Thyn: Happy 70th birthday to my brother, Nico Van Thyn. Other than my parents and Nico, I grew up with having no other relatives (my parents had a few cousins and my father's first wife's sister in Holland), but in America it was the four of us. Luckily, our family had wonderful friends in Holland and America. Naturally, Nico being four years older greatly influenced me and I do not believe I have ever shared how important having him as a brother was in my life. I thank him for taking the majority of the burden of being children of Holocaust survivors and for sharing my early personal history. I love you, Nico. By the way, I always knew you cheated at Monopoly.