Today, join with me in celebration of my Uncle John’s 84th birthday. Along with my Aunt Shirley, the two have been so wonderful to me, to Laura and my daughters. I hope as Laura and I age, we can be as active and enjoy life as much as those two. They always amaze us. On our last visit, they wanted to take us to a place they had recently discovered for dinner. It turned out to be a sports bar. The thought of the two of them walking into a sport bar still amazes us.
To get to that sports bar meant we rode in John’s car which has been a thrill since I was little. John still can flat fly. We buzzed along streets and whipped through the parking lot before snapping sharply into a parking spot. The first time I took Laura to meet John and Shirley, I warned her that a trip with John would be exhilarating. John came through. He had her sitting in the back seat amazed that a man of his age could drive that confidently. Long ago I asked him about cruising speeds. I’ve always remembered his reply. “Driving quickly allows me to get out of trouble quickly,” he said. How can you argue with that simple logic? About a year ago, my aunt informed me that John had been in a very bad auto accident but had suffered only minor injuries. I was sure age had finally caught up with him. How wrong I was. The other driver, a young man with no license or insurance was completely at fault and tried to run from the scene only to be caught by the police.
John and I share a great love for white automobiles. John favored a white Pontiac and usually had the latest model. My cars have almost always been white, and I have been accused of being compulsive about them as I am sure John has been. Funny how neither of us drive white cars right now. Mine is a black “beater” Honda in which we haul Rocket and our bikes. John has a sweet Cadillac and Buick. Who says we can’t change.
I have always enjoyed my time with John. John had the connection for tickets to Nebraska football. Though never a crazed fan, he always wants to confirm I am still a diehard Husker fan despite my years at KU. They both take great pride in the fact Turner Gill is now the KU coach. The Gill family lived just blocks away from them during Gill’s time as an assistant at Nebraska. In my first meeting with the Gill’s I spoke about their connection to my relatives. The Gill’s beamed when I mentioned the Rolling Hills area of Lincoln. My aunt and uncle built one of the first homes in the south Lincoln development after they married 38 years ago. It still looks as though it was built recently. When I told John and Shirley about my conversation with the Gill’s, you could sense the pride in their voices.
Their love for Laura is so endearing. They warmed to her immediately and have always made her feel so at ease. As any man should, I won’t mention Shirley’s age. She is younger than John by a bit as is Laura younger than me. John likes to tell me how that is a real positive. I completely agree. We both wish we could get to Lincoln more often to see them both.
We didn’t get to wish John a Happy Birthday until tonight. They had all sorts of activities related to the birthday to fill their day. As I told him then and say again now. Happy Birthday, John. Thank you for all you have done for me and for all of us. God bless and keep you, and may He grant you many, many more birthdays. We love you both.