Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Happy Birthday Indeed!

I remember as a kid when it used to be all about the presents. Maybe it still is. But now my gifts come wrapped in emails, phone calls, dinner plates, envelopes, and of course T-shirts and dirty sneakers.

I was moved to tears several times over the past twenty-four hours by all the love that was sent my way. I guess the love started when Susan Stephens, one of my teaching colleagues, brought me a vase with two dozen roses during my sixth period class on Tuesday. Then Mama fixed spaghetti (mmm-mmm-mmm) for my birthday dinner. She invited Uncle Olan and Aunt Mary Lou because it was their anniversary that day. Sorry, April and John, wish you could have been there! I got a beautiful card and cash from Mama and Daddy, too!

Yesterday morning Nathan called me from Jamaica to wish me a happy birthday and asked me if my card had arrived. Sadly, it hadn't, even though they mailed it last week.

I got a couple of electronic birthday cards from Carla and my Oklahoma colleague Pam Blevins when I checked my morning email.

When I got to school, there were birthday greetings everywhere. Codie, one of my students from last year, caught me just as I was headed for the bathroom and gave me a homemade card and a hug. He wrote how he had some great teachers this year, but that I was the best, and how I had helped him so much last year. The tears started then, as they are now. Knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a child is better than a paycheck!

Former students were in and out of my classroom all day writing messages on my boards and bringing me cards and hugs. I walked up to the office later in the day while my class was having guidance. It happened to be during seventh and eighth grade lunch. As I was headed back to my room, a herd of former students came charging down the hallway and attacked me on all sides. The teacher on hall duty almost panicked.

I stopped by Mary Roberts' class for something and her class sang Happy Birthday hillbilly style. Later, during lunch I enjoyed Mary's traditional mojo pulled pork. My partner, Vickie Gunn, made me a homemade carrot cake that was divine. The girls on my team know how to put on a party!

Dianne Pippin called me in the middle of class to wish me happy birthday and told me that I was the single most influential person in her life. She brought me to tears in front of all the kids, but they were happy tears.

When I got home I had a phone message from Jimearl, now Bishop Jim Swilley, who was my college roommate. Our birthdays are exactly six months apart to the day, and we always touch base at least twice a year.

Mama also left me a sweet message about the day 49 years ago when they placed me in her arms after 24-hours of labor.

I checked the mail, and there was my annual card from Lesa Yates. Our birthdays are close together. She always sends me a card, and I never send her one. Well, I did one time to thank her . . .

But the best part is that Nathan's card arrived, too! Can you believe my amazing nephew who just started first grade is already writing in cursive. Carla's note attached said , "He wanted to do your card in cursive 'with letters that connect.' And he decorated it with a rainbow and 'colorful sticks.'" Thank you, sweet boy! You know Uncle Howie loves you the MOST!

Finally, my thanks to DeeDah, April, Carla, Sherry, and Rhoda, my regular readers, for all of your sweet comments left online. I love you girls!

Today I counted my blessings once again. I remain a blessed man indeed!