• Eric Dahl

Birthdays and Funerals

To say that I had an interesting week would be a huge disservice to the word interesting. Between corporate visits, reports due, meetings, strategic plans, 2019 media budgets, an impending birthday and a funeral to attend my usual sticky note To Do List had become a full pager. And don’t get me wrong we are all very busy and sometimes I debate with myself whether multitasking and e-mails are helping or hurting my productivity? That said I was trying to compress all of my work and house preparations into four days before family and friends arrived in town. The original goal was to take off Friday on my birthday and just ride the Harley to clear my head and find my center. But the plans of mice and men are often altered, so first off I needed to take my daughter to a friend’s house to babysit their children. Next up, my staff had pre-ordered a birthday cake for me and I felt that I needed to stop in and share that since they thought enough of me to remember. From there I departed to a celebration of life for one of our congregation that recently passed, that I was very fond of, S.T. White. Possibly not the first place you would think of going on your birthday but reading and hearing the accomplishments of ST’s life and humble beginnings had a rag to riches movie feel and provided details I never knew about him all these years we had greeted each other. After showing my respects, it was back to the house to work on things and prepare to go out to eat with family and backstage at the Opry (which I always enjoy). Intermittent rain put a damper on my short-planned Harley ride as well. It was not a typical way to spend a birthday but as I mentioned to several friends it encompassed the circle of like in one day from the cradle to the grave. Every funeral I have attended, and unfortunately the number of those increases as I accumulate years, I always learn things about a deceased friend or family member I didn’t know through the handouts and eulogy. I find myself wishing I knew these hobbies, past careers and major accomplishments while they were still alive so they could share their wisdom with me. It seems like many of us, me included, only learn the surface level of the people we know and meet. We don’t know the background story and the trials and tribulations that forged our friends into the incredible people they are now. Two other people that I was friends with passed away this last week also and both gave me pause. Scott Shivelbine, an old friend from Cape Girardeau that I knew since my dad would take me to Shivelbine’s Music as a young child, passed away suddenly. Blue Miller, a guest on my show and gifted musician and producer, passed away on Saturday after an extended illness. Scott and Blue were from different times and places in my life but each left an impact and were always generous of their time to me. Birthdays, like funerals, can bring out the best or worst in people. On one hand, we are fortunate to have another birthday and have the opportunity to spend more time with our loved ones and friends and on the other hand it is the passage of time and with each year passing we will have fewer to enjoy in the future especially after passing the 50 mark. Over half of our lives are behind and what have we accomplished, who have we helped, how have we made our small space in the world a better place and what will friends and family read and hear about us at our final celebration? I love birthdays and not only my own I enjoy my family’s birthdays and friend’s birthdays, because it is a special day for each us. We can’t control many things in our lives and who knows how long each of us are given, but I believe our actions and treatment of others around us should speaker louder volumes then our words. Each us only knows our full story, struggles and journey, but it is our story to live and what has helped define us and make us who we are today. August 10th, 2018 encompassed time with my daughter, a birthday cake with co-workers, a funeral for a friend, a meal with family and a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Essentially, I lived a country song in one day. Not a bad way to celebration the beginning of another year and the opportunity to be more than I was last year. May you have a Happy Birthday as well and seize the opportunity to make each day ahead count.

A Birthday Party Animal!