Over the past decade, even more, I have made it a point to give my friends a gift on the occasion of my birthday. This gift was in the form of a piece of original writing that came to me at the time.
This one is titled: Zero to Seventy in the Wink of an Eye. And yes, sometimes it does seem like it goes by just that fast.
On this birthday, in the seventh decade of my time on earth this lifetime, I started thinking I would write a bit about my early life.
The simple fact of reaching seventy years of age seems to hold more significance for others than it does for me. But I admit, it does give one pause for reflection. The thoughts to follow are some that come to mind.
Just three score and ten years ago, I was born to a Michigan family in America, and happily so. I count those times of my young life, growing up in “the mitt” of Northwestern Lower Michigan, as some of my best memories to date. These were my “Tom Sawyer days,” filled with both adventure and misadventure, but always something new and exciting. This was largely due to my parents allowing me the freedom to explore and discover life for myself.
We lived in a small farm community with all the advantages that come with that lifestyle. My father, Wilbur, was a carpenter, my mother, Loretta, a teacher, and my maternal grandparents, the Wright family, who lived on a farm less than five miles away.
My paternal grandparents lived in Southern Michigan, my grandfather the owner, editor and writer for forty years of “The Brighton Argus,” the local newspaper. My wonderful and lovely Aunt Virginia (my Dad’s sister) still remains a source of support and understanding throughout her 95 years (and counting).
They were all honest, hard-working and dedicated people providing ongoing inspiration for my life.
For a small boy, the lakes, streams, swamps, fields and back roads were an unending source of adventure and challenge. We, my two brothers and sister, were lucky. Our parents recognized the value of allowing us the freedom to experiment and learn from our mistakes. There were rules to be obeyed, to be sure, but freedom within those guidelines was an open book, filled with anything we chose to put in it.
I well remember building rafts (only to have them sink in the local pond), playing on the railroad tracks and spillway (to my mothers’ distress), building forts in the woods (only to have them torn down by other kids as part of the ongoing “war”), putting on our annual summer “fair” to entertain the kids in the town, working in the 4H, the boy scouts, driving our little motor car complete with a 3/4 horsepower motor (it really did work!) that my dad built for us, winning the State contest with a dancing act with my sister Lauralyn and brother Rod when we were around ten years old, then years later forming what became an award-winning dixieland band with my talented mother Loretta, on piano, sister Lauralyn on clarinet, brother Rod on drums, Dan on trumpet and out “other brother” Eric “Rick” Culver on trombone.
My youngest brother Chuck, (who later became a celebrated bassist) was too young at that time, otherwise we would have insisted he join us. Dad helping perfect both our dancing and musical acts, insisting on a high level of perfection in everything we did. I remember well him saying, “Do it again” after our many rehearsals!
He also volunteered to drive us all over the state to perform at venues small and large, including the opening celebration of the Mackinaw Bridge, (the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere).
Looking back, the many wonderful experiences laid the groundwork for a life full of challenge and adventure, and an attitude which continues with me to this day.
In review, I see some important elements that have become a way of life for me.
As a child I had the reputation of being fearless. Attitudes of self doubt, self-denial, insecurity, embarrassment were simply not a significant part of my makeup. I was evidently born with the willingness to experience life first-hand, something that still lives in me today. I found life and people interesting without regard to social, political or economic standing, and I still do, and have made many close friends along the way as a result.
But there is one person without whom my life would not the same; my wife of forty years, Myrna Jacobs, who has given me more happiness and support in good times and in bad, than I could have ever expected (and arguably may not have deserved). I consider myself a very lucky man. We also have three wonderful children and four grandchildren with whom we share our love and our lives.
As to my many other friends and relatives, you know who you are. I do recognize and appreciate all that you do and have done along the way in sharing my life. You have helped make my life worth living.
I’m looking forward to many more years with family, friends, music, learning, teaching, writing, helping, being helped and experiencing many new adventures.
Again, I’m happy you’re here with me on this journey though life. I really do recognize your value, your contribution and caring. Thank you for being part of my life. I’m looking forward to many more years of the same.
These lyrics from the song, “He Went To Paris,” by Jimmy Buffet summarize my feelings this year:
“Sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it’s tragic, but its been a good life all the way.”
With affection and gratitude,
daniel w. jacobs
Note: My ‘birthday gift writings’ to date are available on this website (metaya.wordpress.com) under the titles and date published as below.
1968 To Be Loved
1997 A Recipe For Longevity, Health and Happiness
1998 Natural Laws
1999 Such Is My Life
2000 Create Your Own Luck
2002 The Important Things
2005 On Reflection
2006 Vibrations Ebony (with thoughts on truth and freedom)
2007 Dreams Into Reality
2008 In The Mind’s Eye
2011 Freedom Is Truth
2013 You’ll Find A Way
2014 Observations and Thoughts on Life and Living