Yes, dear reader, the Curmudgeonly Professor has become an even more ancient geezer than he was two days ago. Monday September 17 was my 80th birthday. I never thought I would live that long but, on the other hand, I never intended to die either. Now I must face up to the fact that I am really, really old. Many people my age have already passed to the Great Beyond. Others are written up in the obits as having gone their way "due to incidents of old age." I am not sure that young people today are much in awe of old people because most young people by the age of 5 are more tech savvy than the average geezer. No one ever has to ask a geezer for info because kids can ask Google, who knows all, and the info is likely to be more up-to-date and reliable than stuff I make up.
After three days of lunches, parties, and being the center of attention I am now abandoned and on my own once again. I asked my wife last night what she was going to do for my birthday yesterday, one day past the 17th, to which she replied "nothing." But, I protested, you said you loved me in your birthday card. Well, she says, I don't love you that much. Saturday was lunch with my wife and her two sisters and a trip to the farmer's market. As I was buying corn, some maniac jumped up right in front of me and got in my face. I was about to clobber this maniac when I realized it was my son Jim from California who had made a special trip to surprise me. He had pulled this stunt once before, when my wife and I were in one car and Jim and family were in another and I left an hour before he did for southern California. At Hesperia, just at the top of Cajon Pass, some maniac jumped up in front of me while paying for gas and about gave me a heart attack. Turns out it was Jim. Jim claimed I was driving really, really slow.
I had given my wife and sons explicit instructions not to have a birthday bash because it would make me feel self conscious. Sunday we were on our way over to my other son Russell's for Sunday dinner when, suddenly, my son Jim pulled into the HOA club house at Russell's neighborhood. I'm doomed, I said. I was met with balloons, crepe paper, small great grandchildren trooping up to me with their handwritten birthday cards, and about 30 posterity and family. How was I to know. I didn't think anyone would care that I had turned 80 because they would merely think I was an even bigger grouch and, besides, I am a Democrat, and, heaven knows why, they are all Republicans. But I did escape from what actually was a wonderful party with a new super-duper-top-of-the-line iPad, which I had been coveting for some time. Now I can enter the realm of the unsociables who sit around at a get together twiddling their thumbs over their iPhones and iPads and ignore everyone else in the room. I also was blessed with a digital photo frame and a few other odds and ends and cards.
Monday, my actual birthday, was then a trivial day since all the celebrating, singing, etc. had vanished. My daughter-in-law, Susan, had given me a "Nixon now more than ever" button years ago and apologized for not being able to find another George Bush birthday card, a genre with which she had aggravated me several times in recent years. So I prevailed on son Jim to haul me to Temple Square in downtown SLCity on Monday so I could take pictures of the flowers. I was then in 7th heaven for a couple of hours, trying to find and photograph every different flower in the magnificent flower beds of Temple Square itself and the large Church Office Plaza flower gardens just to the east of the temple. Then we went to lunch at the Nauvoo Room in the former Hotel Utah, now the Joseph Smith Building. The Hotel Utah holds a special place for my wife and me since that is where we stayed nearly 60 years ago (this coming December) when we came from Laramie WY over icy roads to be married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.
Now, apparently, my birthday is over. Twenty three facebook wishes,which is a lot more friends than I thought I had. An annual birthday card from my neighbor in St. George who deliberately flies his big red U of Utah flag whenever he thinks it will irritate me. There were no cards yesterday. No emails. I had to fix my own lunch. I had pleaded for a trip to Panda Express for some walnut shrimp, but my piteous pleas fell on deaf ears. I came to the realization that my birthday was over, that no one cared one whit now.
So today I am still editing the 350 photos I took of the wonderful flowers at Temple Square. For three wonderful days I was at peace with my friends and family, grateful beyond measure for the blessings of life, and for my wonderful wife who engineered all of these surprises despite her chronic pain even though I knew I wasn't worthy of any surpirse for being such an annoying (but entertaining, please) husband. For two wonderful hours I lived among the flower gardens of Temple Square and now I can live with the photos I took which will long outlive the flowers themselves, soon to be victims to the harbingers of frost and autumn. Life may be uncertain, but, as my wife's physician in St. George keeps reminding us, we are grateful for one day at a time. May your life be as rewarding as mine has been for eight decades.
From the flower gardens at Temple Square and the Church Office Plaza.