The most memorable birthday cake I ever had was a cake that Mike got me about 12 years ago that said, “Happy Bar Mitzvah Leroy”. He said he couldn’t pass up the really good deal he got on the cake that someone ordered, but never picked up. So now it’s common in our family to hear “Happy Bar Mitzvah Leroy” on your birthday instead of the usual “Happy Birthday.” I believed Mike’s cake story for about a minute and a half. I had been with him long enough to know he ordered the cake that way to make things a little more interesting.
It was Mike’s 50th birthday last Monday, which you would know if you read his last blog post, Hawaii 5-OLD. I asked him about a week before how he felt about turning 50 and he said he felt good about it. He said he feels like he will have “made it” when he turns 50.
It’s funny because Mike had a thing about his age when we first met. I was 19 and he was 23 when we got engaged, that’s when he told me he was really 26. Had I known his real age when we met, I might not have dated him…I might have thought he was a little old. I did wonder how he accomplished so much for a 23 year old though; an extra grade in high school (there was grade 13 back then in Ontario), three years of university, two years in the army, a job as a forest ranger, a job as a life guard, some travelling and so on. When he told me he was really 26 that made more sense.
Mike got over the age thing a while ago and when he was diagnosed with ALS in March, his 50th birthday became a desired milestone. He would say if he could make it to 50, he would be happy. He would also say that lots of people would have been happy to make it to 50.
The couple of weeks leading up to Mike’s birthday were filled with grief for me. I have come to realise the grieving process happens in stages, and as the illness progresses, the degree of difficulty accepting the changes increases…and grieving the losses comes with that. But January 16th was a day to celebrate! We had to take our eyes off what has been lost and focus on what has been given.
Mike has accomplished so much in the half century he’s been around. He has also impacted the lives of so many people in a positive way and has been a huge blessing to me and countless others…the world is a better place because of my guy, Mike!
To Mike: Happy Bar Mitzvah Leroy...and many more! May the Lord bless you and keep you!
A snowy walk on Mike's birthday
Mike's favorite cake - Sarah Lee Strawberry Cheesecake
A gift from my sister and fam...a picture of an owl with the words: "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their cry." Psalm 34:15