88 years, four days, and counting

Olive GardensFrederick Buechner wrote in the introduction to The Longing for Home that he had the fantasy in his middle age that he had roughly as much time left to live as he had lived already.  But as Buechner’s  seventieth year approached he began to wise up.  He said that not just in his mind, but in his stomach he knew he was a good deal closer to the end of his time than he was to its beginning.  Then he asked, “Who would want it to be day forever and never night, after all?  Who would choose to be awake forever and never get a chance to sleep?” Buechner is 87 and will be 88 in July.

cakecakeOn Friday, March 14, I passed into my 88th year. The celebration of my birthday began on Sunday, March 9 at the Olive Gardens with My Joy and three of her friends.  Then again My Joy and I celebrated with an official cake on the evening of the 14th.  Luke and Verna Berkey who live next door to “My Joy” joined us later for tea and a piece of cake.  They are reliable friends.

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Rhoda’s great granddaughter at Olive Garden

On Saturday eve, March 15, our family of twelve gathered at the Olive Garden, a favorite place for  Rhoda.  When we asked her where she would like to celebrate an event in her honor she would invariably say: at the Olive Garden. Now, the garden in Elkhart is where our family  customarily gathers to mourn or to celebrate.

When Luke and Verna Birkey learned that we were going to the Olive Garden, they told us they and its manager were close friends and urged us to ask for an introduction.  The wait-staff told us that she was in Italy.  Because of her success as their manager she had been awarded a trip to Italy to visit restaurants and collect authentic recipes.

I told the family that I hoped that My Joy would live five more years to be 88, and that I would live five more years and to be 93, and as My Joy said to me quietly, then we could go together.  We hope to go to the garden again.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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4 Responses to 88 years, four days, and counting

  1. Raymond Martin says:

    So, did you pass into your 88th year or 89th?

  2. I never was very good at math, but I think I will be considered to be 88 years for twelve months and afterwards I will be known as 89 for the next twelve months. Should I have said, “87 years, and four days toward 88?”

  3. Mary bew says:

    Happy birthday. we are grateful for every day. . .

  4. Kendal Sommers says:

    Happy Birthday, Martin! I’m sure I speak for many when I say, Your words and presence enrich my life. Thank you.

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