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Chuck Hinman: Reflections On A Happy Birthday

Chuck Hinman: Reflections On A Happy Birthday
Chuck recounts events of his 82nd birthday. He went to be with his Lord on December 15, 2011, but he is still alive to us through his many stories. Robert Stone, who has forwarded them to ColumbiaMagazine, says there just a few more "new to CM" stories but he - who has never tired of re-reading them - feels sure CM readers will enjoy seeing the old ones again. He wishes to thank Alsie Mae Stapleton of Oklahoma for forwarding him copies of her files. She began to collect Chucks stories from the beginning. The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - Jules and Ruth Bourquin: Matchmakers for Chuck and Connie
Chuck's obituary Chuck Hinman, Bartlesville, OK, (1922-2011)

By Chuck Hinman

Reflections On A Happy Birthday

Yesterday, January 19, 2004, was my 82nd birthday. According to my mom, I was a 10 pound, 10 month baby born at home in a Nebraska blizzard. Since that cold beginning, I have come through several blizzards.

The Lord has been very good to me. Forty some years ago, I asked Him to be the pilot of my boat, a modest john-boat, with a WIDE bottom. I admit to frequently being a back-seat driver and trying to seize control of the oars, but as of now, He IS the Captain and we are on a delightful cruise!

Let me tell you what He ordered up for my birthday. He reminded all of my family, far and near, of this special day. I received telephone calls from family -- Mary Ann, Paul, and Kasi wishing me a happy day. I received both cards and e-mail's from sister Joy Ann and Jack in Arkansas, sister-in-law Lindy in Nebraska where I was born, niece Nancy York in Fairbury, Nebraska -- all with a mixture of greetings. I enjoyed the various sentiments expressed -- some serious, but many kidding me in one way or another! My family is a fun-loving family and we use birthdays as an excuse for saying something we always wanted to say but held back! Paul and Mary Ann are notorious for finding and sending the $4.99 Hallmark cards whose sentiment is dripping with emotion. They ought to be for those bucks! I am soft enough to think that they really do mean to say what the card says -- so I shed a tear of happiness and nostalgia!

At lunch yesterday I received a card from my eating buddy Ed Parsons. This was special because I had attended a recent birthday party hosted by Ed's delightful family at Sterling Grill celebrating Ed's 90th birthday. Then typical of Tallgrass Estates where I live, my birthday was honored at the noon dinner meal -- BIG TIME!

First, my regular eating place was marked by three helium-filled balloons attached to my chair. In a nice ceremony, the managers presented me with a birthday card signed by the nearly 100 residents, many with sentiment. Afterwards I was serenaded with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in which all the wait staff, including the Chef and cooks joined the residents, and concluded with the scattered little voices adding "AND MANY MOOOOORE!" I ATE IT UP!

There were several greeting cards from special friends who wanted to add a special personal note. For example my next door neighbors -- Woodrow and Eunice Staats, lovely love-birds, gave me a totally handwritten card in which Woody enclosed a Collector's new issue of State quarters. He cleverly explained the reason he gave me a Missouri quarter instead of a Nebraska quarter, was that it reminded him of Harry Truman who was noted for being the piano-player from Missouri -- but he knew a Nebraska piano player (I wonder who?) who frequently serenaded them at Tallgrass when I played "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," the Staats' courting days' song. How thoughtful!

So you see the Lord has surrounded me in a lovely new home with new brothers and sisters (nearly 100 of them) who make my Senior Days like one extended cruise! The front entrance to my apartment gives the appearance of a big party in progress -- with balloons -- all sizes crowding the door, thanks to Wilbur Ross, my cruise neighbor's leftover balloons from his recent 90th birthday bash, which eclipsed my "bash."

And the greetings continued! After dinner, I went to Alterra House to do my weekly volunteer work. I go to various assisted living homes with the M and M Seniors from Highland Park Church. Unknown to me, word had gotten out that it was my birthday. Eric Carter, Highland Park's music director, honored me before the residents of Alterra House with the singing of the birthday song. I was showered with greeting cards and hugs from the various members of the M and M Group -- one card included signatures of three ladies, Elvira Vaca de Narvaez from Ecuador, Maria Butler from Venezuela, and Nhu My Blum from Viet Nam who participate in an English Language study group at Highland Park church and are part of the M & M Volunteer Group. HOW MUCH BETTER CAN IT GET ON YOUR 82ND BIRTHDAY?

When I returned home, my phone was kept busy with greetings from friends. Two extra special ones come to mind. I'm talking -- LONG time friends, the kind that only 80-ish people have, and few in number which makes them extra-special. Ken Campbell, my long time next door neighbor called from Wichita, Kansas, and wished me HB and we talked for an hour. He and wife Nylene had recently relocated to Wichita to be near daughter Donna. Shortly after moving, a series of health problems befell "indestructible Ken" and we shared chit-chat about pitfalls that go with the area of aging. Ken had been the ear I bent for years. He was my "go-to guy" if I needed something fixed. He was a pro in everything he did -- better than professionals. He is the kind of guy that sounds so "rough-tough," you don't think he has a heart, and then you find he is the "softie of softies." Even though our conversation wasn't all "happy" talk, I will treasure it forever. It was truly "man to man, friend to friend" talk with time-out to dab some tears which neither of us saw on the other -- the way we wanted it! Men don't make tears! Don't you believe it!!

The other call came the next morning from old Harry Lair, my long time church friend in the New Harmony (Hogshooter Creek) area. My phone had been so busy on my birthday, he hadn't been able to reach me! Harry and I share the same experience of caring for wives with dementia (Alzheimer's Disease) problems and in that care, probably sacrificed some of our own health -- but without regret. We both enjoyed extremely good marriages. Our wives, Connie and Dorothy were also close friends.

I must not fail to mention a warm birthday greeting left on my answering service from dear friend, Apryll Kannard who did yeoman service for me at a very "special time" (Apryll knows what that was) when I was caregiver for my Alzheimer Disease ridden wife Connie. And that, at a time when Apryll's husband Rex was dying from complications of diabetes. What a friend! I will never forget! Anyone, especially a lovely lady who will come and give your sick wife an enema! -- How can you repay that? YOU CAN'T! Indescribable friend? U-bet! Thanks -- friend Apryll for everything!

And of course, last Sunday morning at church, New Harmony Baptist Church where I have been a member since 1960, my mailbox was running over with birthday greeting cards. Next Sunday morning I will, one last time, be honored with the singing of the birthday song by my church family, around 80 in number.

As you can see, because of my birthday. I have been the recipient of MORE KINDNESSES than I have recounted in this writing. Keep that in mind when I tell you what I started a little over a year ago.

Somewhere I read in a daily devotion book, a suggestion for older people. The suggestion was that I estimate realistically the maximum number of years I would like to live. Then I was asked to calculate that time in months. Then I was to go to a store and buy some glass marbles and put a marble in a clear glass vase for each month I would like to live. I was to keep the vase of marbles in a conspicuous (to me) place. Sound kooky? Hold on -- it clears up!

Then with the well-known statement -
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last --
in mind, I was challenged on a daily basis to do acts of kindness to those around me, with no thought of that kindness being repaid. At the end of each week of the above kind of service constantly motivating me, I was asked to remove one glass marble from the vase and throw it away. The main thought being that as the marbles began to noticeably disappear in the jar, so my opportunity for doing something with LASTING BENEFITS would also be passing.

A few paragraphs ago, I asked you to keep in mind the many kindnesses that had come to me on a single day, my birthday.

My conclusion is that no matter how much I try in my feeble "acts of random kindness to people in my circle of influence," I can never outgive the Lord, the captain of my little john-boat!!


Written By Chuck Hinman on January 20, 2004, ImPeruvians Writing Assignment -- "Use of word -- yeoman"

"Only One Life, 'Twill Soon Be Past" is a poem by C.T. [Charles Thomas] Studd (1860-1931), missionary to China, India, and Africa.

This story was posted on 2013-01-19 03:54:04
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