Maybe it would be more impressive to say 341,880, and even more impressive to say 20,512,800. But heck, if we are going to look for big numbers, let’s say 1,230,768,000. But since I don’t know off the top of my head the exact time I was born, I will stick with the first number. I have now been alive 14,245 days. That’s 39 years for those that are still trying to do the math.
August 11, 1971. Obviously an important date to me. If you are a sports fan, it could be an important day in your life to. It was the day that construction on the Superdome in New Orleans started. It was also the day that Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins got his 500th and 501st home runs of his major league career.
Outside of the sports world there are some other significant events that happened on August 11th. For example, on this date in 1874, a patent was awarded for the sprinkler head. My lawn is thankful. So is my thumb. In 1934, Alcatraz received its first federal prisoners. No significance to me other than bringing back memories of a family trip to San Francisco about 27 years ago. In 1956, artist Jackson Pollack died. I don’t have any of his paintings. Why should I…my daughter can paint just like he did.
Okay, so it doesn’t seem like anything really interesting happened on this date in history. Oh wait, 11 years ago a tornado ripped through downtown Salt Lake City. I wasn’t there but it was exciting to read about and see the aftermath when I went up a couple of weeks later.
Some famous people I share a birthday with are Alex Haley, Jerry Falwell, Steve Wozniak, and Hulk Hogan. And those are the names I recognize. Imagine if a movie were made about people born on this date and those were the subjects. It could be Barbara Walter’s worst nightmare of an “Interesting People of August 11” primetime show. Can you imagine how goofy a conversation would be if they were all in a room together?
Five years before I was born, the Beatles arrives in Chicago to start their last US tour. Two years later on this date they released their first single under the Apple Records label. “Hey Jude” is still one of my favorite songs they sang. On my first birthday, Elvis and Pricilla Presley filed for divorce. His life went downhill from there. It had probably already started going downhill.
So these are all great tidbits of information, but since this is my blog, and it is my birthday, I think I should really talk about me.
I was born a few days later than the due date and as a result weighed in at ten pounds and ten ounces. I had two older sisters and one older brother (two sisters and a brother were added during the following five years). My mom named me Nathan Scott Palmer. My dad was out of town, but when he found out two days later, they changed my first name to Randall. Good thing too or my younger brother would have had to been called Aloysius. (It was a name my dad teased about wanting to name a son…or grandson.)
On Facebook today, my mom posted the story about my name being changed and it brought back memories of my brother. In a Facebook questionnaire that he was filling out, it asked if he was named after anyone. His reply: “Not that I know of, unless you want to count my brother since he had the name first.” Classic response, Nate. He took his life on July 4, 2009, at the young age of 33. I know, you are probably wondering why I would think about a sad event like that on my birthday. Well, blame it on my mom.
Actually, it is appropriate. Nate was involved for good and bad on all of my birthdays growing up. When I had a birthday party with friends and cousins, he was involved. If a friend didn’t show up (which seemed to happen each year), Nate would take his place in the games. Even when all my friends came, Nate just sat to the side waiting for me to open presents and have cake and ice cream. He frequently would take my new presents and play with them (most times without my permission) as if they were his. Sometime he broke them, sometimes he didn’t. But they are good memories.
Those memories fall in line with many other memories I have from past birthdays. I have had many good birthdays and a few bad birthdays throughout my life. Thirty-nine birthdays…chances are pretty good that at least one would not go as pleasant as I wanted it to. For example, my parents were out of town on my 8th, 12th, and 16th birthdays. Those birthdays weren’t so fun for me, but my siblings tried to make them so. From the time I can remember having parties until I was about 11, I would get so excited for my birthday that I couldn’t sleep the night before and I would usually vomit. But hey, once I got through that, it was a good day.
One of my favorite birthdays was my 31st. The reason why? Because my 30th was so bad. For me, I thought my 30th should a super birthday. It was a milestone birthday. The start of a new decade. Then I got out of bed and got ready for the day. I went to work and was told I needed to plan on going to New York City for a business trip to visit a client that nobody wanted to visit. I had visited them the previous time. Wasn’t it someone elses turn? I didn’t get a single phone call from my family members that day. I have six siblings and two parents…you would think that someone would have called. No email either.
The day got worse when my wife and I went to dinner. I really wanted to go to a new restaurant that had opened. We went and they had a two hour wait. I was starving so we went to different restaurant that I hadn’t been to in quite a while. Obviously it had been a while. We got there and they had closed their business. I wasn’t in the mood to choose anymore restaurants, but I didn’t want to go anywhere my wife suggested. Then I thought: “This is my birthday; we will go somewhere I have wanted to go that she won’t ever go to.” I chose a Japanese/Korean restaurant that was close to our house. My wife hates the idea of Japanese and Korean food. She wasn’t happy and I heard about it. Even my food wasn’t that great. The end of the day couldn’t come soon enough.
Okay, it may not seem so bad, but it was. Trust me. And because of it, my wife decided to make my next birthday be better. My 31st birthday fell on a Sunday. Because of other commitments with Church (and the fact that it was the Sabbath on which we limit our activities), we didn’t go out to dinner or do anything special. We did some of that the night before. But my wife was scheming and got my mom in on the plan.
My mom is very computer illiterate. In fact, my whole family is to some extent. Anyway, my mom always calls me to fix her computer problems. They usually weren’t big problems, but they were things that required my presence rather than an explanation over the phone. So along comes my birthday and my wife asks my mom to call about a “computer problem” that needs my attention immediately. The phone call came. I tell my wife what mom was calling about and she tells me I better go help before the problem gets worse. Unbeknownst to be, as soon as I walked out the door she was on the phone to all of my siblings.
I was at my parents about one hour. As I was getting ready to leave, my mom asked what time we were going to have cake and ice cream. I told her that we would have it whenever she and dad could come over. She said that they would follow me home rather than wait. I said okay and headed for the door. She told me she had to use the bathroom and then they would leave. As soon as I walked out the door, she was on the phone to my wife saying that I was on my way home.
I got home and was slow about walking into the house. It was getting overcast and the breeze felt especially refreshing since it had been another hot summer day. I wasn’t even all the way up the walk to the house when my mom and dad pulled up, so I waited for them to get out of the car and walk in with me. I opened the door to a surprise party. All of my siblings (except the oldest who was living in Maryland) along with their spouses and kids were there. Balloons and streamers were hanging from the ceiling. It was a good moment. I got choked up but didn’t want to show it. I felt loved.
So here I am today with many more memories to share from past birthdays. I woke up this morning to breakfast in bed. I got my driver’s license renewed. I had a good day at work and went out to lunch with my wife. There are activities involving my wife and kids at the church tonight so we won’t do cake and ice cream until everyone is home. But all in all, this has been another good birthday.
I may not have 43 inch “python” biceps like Hulk Hogan, my artwork may not make it into a museum like Jackson Pollock, and I may not write a book that turns into a television mini-series like Alex Haley. But that is okay. Each day that I am alive I am trying to improve on myself. The number will continue to grow and next year I will be up to 14,610…days. And I will have shared many more of my observations on life. I hope you enjoy what comes.
Just another view from a palmtree.