"Don't seek to add years to your life, but rather add life to your years."

In honor of Gary's birthday today I want to share some of my happiest memories.  We are here on Planet Earth for such a short time, in light of eternity.  Some of us have the privilege of sharing some of those years with a spouse.  I pray we would ALL seek to find joy in the good things God has given us, and not waste time with a critical spirit, or wishing for something we do not have.  God gives good gifts to each of his children.  May we be grateful for them in the present.

Happy Birthday, Gary!

H - Happy - "For he will not often consider (much remember) the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart." Ecclesiastes 5:20.  Our pastor, Jon Rourke, said on Sunday morning, that "The most blessed man is the not the one who has the most, but the one with the capacity to enjoy what he has."  Gary learned to savor things.  Cinnamon rolls, moss, and steel drum hymns. 
A - Arguments -When our daughters were about 6 and 4, and they decided to argue with each other over a toy, or whatever kids argue about, Gary instituted "5 minute hugs."  The timer was set, and the girls had to hug each other for the allotted time.  What began as miserable intolerance, always ended up with laughter, and cooperation. 
P - Proper Manners - Table manners were HUGE at our house.  For some reason, Gary, even though a construction worker by trade, would not tolerate talking with food in your mouth, interrupting at the table, reaching across the table for the serving bowl, forgetting to place your napkin in your lap, or worst of all making "mouth noises" while eating.  The girls, (and both Gary and I as well), would be warned one time, then "thrown out the window".  Fortunately, we had a window, that was low to the ground, and one could be lowered down, but the first time Gary said, "If you do it again, I'm going to throw you out the window", it was met with big eyes.  Especially when we had guests over for dinner.  When we remodeled and changed the windows to the type with screens, the consequence morphed into going outside and counting to 100.  I confess I too have spent some time on the front porch during some meals.
P - Practical Jokes - Smoke bombs wired to honeymoon get-away cars, sink faucet spray nozzles wedged to spray the victim when the water is turned on, "Bedwetting" treatment ads left on the windshields of friends in the church parking lot.  The list is long.  Gary's friends also knew how to "pay him back".  He once got a call from the local Marine Sargent Recruiter because he had "filled out a card inquiring about enlisting." One time, on the first night home from our vacation, we were awakened at 1:00 am to strobe lights and sirens in our bedroom, coming from the a/c duct, coincidentally right after our friend, John had been house sitting for us.  The trouble with practical jokes is that they often overflow on to innocent wives!   
Y -Yucky Tomato - One of our daughters, who shall remain nameless, hated tomatoes, and still does to this day.  The rule at our house, was that if you didn't "care for" something, you needed to at least have a "no thank you" serving, and taste it because you never know when your tastes will change.  When this daughter was about 4, she decided she would not even taste her BLT at Sunday lunch.  This became the typical "battle of the wills."  Gary said, "That's fine, you can have it for dinner and nothing else except juice until you try the tomato."  So out it came at dinner, at which time she ate the Bacon.  Still refusing to taste the tomato, she received the sandwich again at breakfast at which time she ate the Lettuce and some of the Bread.  Hunger had it's effect and at lunchtime on Monday she decided to take a bite of the tomato. 
B - Beautiful - I can't remember the exact context, but will never forget that Gary said "You can make a woman beautiful by how you treat her."
I - Imagination - Gary's imagination often led to inventions and a garage, crowded with "someday I'm going to" projects. One that everyone's familiar with is the stone self portrait, high above the driveway, on the fireplace.  (see photo below)  He wanted to "keep an eye on his work truck."  I assume it is still there, keeping an eye on our former house. 
R - Reconnaissance - Our friend Tim, whom we served with at the USC Bible Study recently reminded me of a lesson he learned from Gary, "one of the only things I really remember about being a husband and father in situations like this was Gary's comparing it to being a scout. As a man, you go out and search out a situation and make sure that it's a good one for your family. Are there provisions? Is it safe? Where are the dangers and threats?" That helped me to see what my role was and how I could be a blessing to my family. 
T - H2O Therapy - Our friends, Greg and Diane, called it his "Water Therapy".  Gary's first activity upon arriving at home from work every day, was watering the front yard.  Even after he installed sprinklers, he would unwind in this way.
H - Haircut Joy - When I began to loose my hair from the chemo therapy 9 years ago, Gary helped me get it over with, and all shaved off.  But this dreaded event, became a cause for laughter, because of his fun attitude.  Out came the buzzer, accompanied by sympathy and a hug, and then he proceeded to make me laugh.  First he gave me a mohawk, and then a military cut, and then away it all went.  "Blip-ti-de-Blip...Blip-ti-de-Blam!"
D - Dump Antics - In the 70's, Gary had a 1953 1-Ton Flat bed pickup truck.  He had ordered tool boxes for it, and in order to have them installed, the flat bed needed to be removed.  He drove the truck to the dump, and pulled up near the piles of trash, got out, removed the bolts holding the flatbed to the frame, got back in, 'gunned' it, and sped away, which immediately removed the flatbed.  One of the "trash-pickers" called out to him, as he drove away, "Hey mister, you lost part of your truck!" 
A - Automobile Showroom -Gary often told young men who were getting involved with young women, while still in college, "What you're doing is like hanging around the new car lots, when you can't afford to buy a new car?  You need to be ready to support a wife, AND family, before you get involved in a dating relationship.  Until that time, spend time with girls in groups, and don't get serious until you can do something about it.  It's not sensible, or fair to 'tap dibs' on a girl and make her wait for you to get your act together.  Do things in the right order." 
Y - "You bettcha" - This was his most common response whenever I asked Gary to do something for me.  Requests ranging from "Can you unload the groceries from the car?" "You Bettcha!" "Can you find a way to hang rice paper lamps all over the back yard for April's wedding?" "You Bettcha!" "Can you make footprints in wet cement leading to the fishpond for our upcoming murder-mystery party?  Oh, and we'll need a corpse too."  Gary disappeared for a while and down he came from the attic with the mannequin, again...

Gary would be the first to say he is not perfect, and he probably wouldn't be thrilled with all the attention he is getting lately, but birthdays are a time for celebrating.  I celebrate my Gary. 

Keeping an Eye on Things