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Donna Barker

Making your years count

The great American philosopher Paris Hilton once said “The way I see it, live every day as if it’s your birthday.”

I tend to agree.

Birthdays are meant to be celebrated, no matter how many of them you have. And if a person can get by celebrating her birthday more than once a year, I say go for it.

My co-workers know I like to celebrate my birthday three or four times a year. Birthdays are a day of well-wishes, and I can use all I can get. Plus, someone may decide to bring in treats for my birthday.

With another birthday under my belt this past weekend, my youngest daughter asked me which of my birthdays have been most memorable for me.

When I thought about all my birthdays, and there have been plenty, I couldn’t remember any of them by the gifts I received, but rather by the people around me at that time.

My first 11 birthdays were always a special celebration with my dad because we shared the same birthday. After his death, my birthday became a solemn, bittersweet time for me for a long while. My 20th birthday was my only hard birthday because I was leaving my teens, and to me, that meant it was time to grow up, quit making excuses and become responsible.

One of my most special birthdays was my 25th. Early that morning, the phone rang and my sister-in-law called to wish me a happy birthday and to let me know she had just given birth to my niece, Amy. So with my dad and niece, we were three-generations of a shared birthday.

I can also easily remember my 30th birthday because I was a new mom; my 32nd birthday because our second daughter was just 3 days old; and my 35th birthday because our youngest daughter was just a few months old.

I also remember my 40th birthday because my husband put “Happy 40th, Donna” on the company marquee sign for everyone to see who drove through Wyanet. From there on out, there was no denying my age.

Some people may struggle with getting older, but I don’t so much. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes with the completion of each year. I like looking back on a year knowing we’ve had some great joys and also faced some great challenges, but we’ve made it through intact.

My many birthdays have taught me at least one thing, that life is still about the learning, regardless of how many birthdays you may have under your belt. (However, I did think I’d be a bit more perfect by the time I reached this age. And something tells me I probably won’t be a whole lot more perfect by my next birthday either.)

So as I head into another year, I’m going to try to remember the words of Paris Hilton and try to make each day special, to treat it just like a birthday.

But I’m going to take Hilton’s philosophy a bit further and agree with the words of poet Ernest Meyer who said don’t just count your years, but make your years count.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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