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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Big Chill and the Warmth of Human Kindness

Yesterday was my 70th birthday (born on January 27, 1944).

To help me celebrate my brother Bob and wife Linda traveled from north Georgia to have lunch with me in Saint Petersburg. It was a little awkward for at the moment I am contagious for cold miseries—which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. They declined to come into my house or to drive to the restaurant in the same car with me—even our embraces were gingerly. Luckily, there were seats outside the restaurant (the weather was moderate) and as no one else was sitting there, I could cough to my heart's content. We had a fun visit and topped it off with surprise homemade coconut pie (made by the local restaurant) and finished with a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday. I received much support for both my sickness and my birthday throughout the day—receiving cards, letters, and phone calls from nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends. My friends Veronica and Negille even brought over a container of chicken soup.

My doctor gave me a big birthday present too. First he prescribed an antibiotic for my lung condition, an inhaler, order not to return to work for 7 days. Now, I have tons of sick time at work and will be retiring Friday of next week. Sick time is much more valuable if actually used. While one can receive a percentage of accumulated sick time as cash on retirement, it is a very small percentage. The doctor gifted me with salvation from the anxiety and guilt that accompanies a going-back-to-work decision while suffering from a serious cold. The questions are always “Is now the time to return to work—is it too early, am I still contagious, what if I have a relapse?” With a stroke of the pen Dr. Brady removed all such ethical dilemmas.

In sum, I had an adventurous 70th birthday completely redeemed from boredom. Often in life it seems that downsides have a savingeven endearingupside. So what if my 70th birthday was accompanied by a big chill?—the warmth of human kindness turned out to be the dominant theme.

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