That I made my debut on a cold, snowy morning, just after midnight, at Macneal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. The nation was still reeling from the assassination of John Kennedy 10 days before. The Warren Commission was already at work, interviewing witnesses. I was the first child born to Ed and Mary Jane, a young couple from Wisconsin who had married in January and had come to Chicago to seek a new life. It didn't work out too well and they ended up back in Appleton, where I grew up.
44 is kind of an odd birthday. It's not a milestone, but there's an obvious symmetry to the number. It occurs to me that, based on the average life expectancy in the United States, I'm probably playing the back nine. Demographically, I'm considered a Baby Boomer, but I don't really fit with that generation. My siblings are all younger and they are considered Gen X. Those of us who were born between 1960 and 1964 are in a sort of demographic limbo. I can only dimly remember the 1960s; I remember weird things, like watching the 1968 election returns with my dad, or seeing the weekly body counts from Vietnam, which in those days included the numbers of opposing soldiers killed, something we don't get in the current war. I remember the astronauts; I sort of remember Woodstock, or more to the point, my dad's disgusted reaction to the news reports he was seeing on the television. This larger world was out there; one of my uncles was a POW and I remember my cousin wearing a bracelet with my uncle's name on it. But my experiences aren't the same as most Boomers. And that's okay.
This has been an eventful year and despite some of the setbacks and struggles we've faced I'm grateful for a lot of things. I suspect that my 45th year will be better than this one has been. And that's the best birthday present a person can have.
UPDATE: So, turning 44 has already paid immediate dividends. My family and I went to the Culvers in St. Anthony tonight to get an ice cream treat for my birthday. I ordered the items and then paid for them. After we left the counter, Mrs. D said "did you notice that they gave you the senior citizen discount?" I hadn't. Glad to see that I'm aging well! Some people get really offended by stuff like that. I think it's hilarious. See you tomorrow afternoon around 3:30 for the early bird special!