Milestones. We all encounter them at some point in our lives but do they typically come in droves? For our household, that definitely seems to be the case this summer.

Ella just turned eight a few weeks ago. After a bit of research, we learned that eight year olds are not required to have booster seats in Oregon. I’m sure it seems pathetic, but it’s just another reminder of how quickly our little girl is growing up. Shortly after finding out that she didn’t need to have the booster seat anymore, I received a voice mail on my cell phone from Ella. In a very sweet voice she told me how excited she was to no longer have to sit in the car seat and how much more fun it was to look out the windows with a greater degree of independence. I’m not sure how many days a voice mail can be saved through my cell service but I’m hoping that “into perpetuity” is an option. On a day when things aren’t going well, that sweet little voice is waiting for me to listen to as she extolls the virtues of boosterless existence. Life is good when you are eight.

Just a couple of days ago, Riley turned 15. Apparently she didn’t get the memo that large dogs aren’t supposed to live so long. True, she doesn’t tear around the house so much these days and she has become an agonizingly picky eater but her resilience is the stuff of legends. Taking that tireless formula and multiplying 15 by 7 sends most people I know running for a calculator. I mean, when your dog is getting to the point of requiring scientific notation to calculate her age in human years, it’s noteworthy. No one can believe that she is the equivalent of the oldest human being on the planet. We’ve had her since she was just a few weeks old and try as I might, I can’t reconcile this ancient canine with that fluffy little bundle of energy that she once was. Milestones indeed.

On Saturday, JJ and I will celebrate our 17th anniversary. Each year of marriage is supposed to be represented by some random element, be it paper, leather, wood, silver etc. I don’t want to depart too much from tradition but to me the years of our marriage represent something much different. To me our years of marriage represent a remodel, a child, a Master’s degree, a job change. Each year represents traditions and memories – joy, heartbreak, love, disappointment. JJ and I are not the same people we started out as on this journey together and yet we remain committed to each other through all the ups and downs that any married people experience. As has been the case for the last few years, our anniversary will be celebrated in a family setting – in this case, at a swim meet for Ella. We’re hoping for a less eventful meet than last summer when Ella injured herself right before swimming a number of events. Parenthood, like marriage, is apparently not for the faint hearted. Anyone that has dug rocks out their child’s hands and then hoped for the best as those same hands somehow managed to climb up to the starting blocks before a swimming race knows what I mean.

After Ella is done with her meet this weekend JJ and I will be attending her 20th high school reunion. What will we experience when we are once again tossed in with those that were once the center of our universe seemingly an eternity ago? If it’s anything like my reunion a few years back, we’ll see that time has been kind to some and not so much to others. I can’t remember who said it but I remember a quote that I heard some time ago that each of us “lead lives of quiet desperation.” 42 years into my life, 17 years into my marriage, 20 years into my career, 15 years with the same goofy dog and 8 years as a proud father, I would have to say that I don’t agree one bit with that quote. Life is what we make of it – be it full of passion, remorse, beauty or desperation. And as each milestone arrives and is celebrated, I hope to choose to marvel at the wonder of this life we are blessed to live.

Sure, this is a busy summer and one filled with an overwhelming number of events. But, seriously, who would want it any other way?


4 thoughts on “Milestones

  1. What a positive & sweet entry, Mark! (You should save for your daughter). It was Henry David Thoreau who thought and wrote that men (and, we must add women) are slaves to their work and enslaved to those for whom they work. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation….” . That’s the reason he went to live in isolation at Walden Pond. I suppose that was his way of denying his own supposition?

  2. Mark,
    Ray and I loved reading your thoughts – full to the brim with lovely images and sentiments! Your writing is much like the way you play drums…very creative, with feeling! We especially liked to hear about Riley. Our cats are starting to get older too – but one in particular; “Wolfina” – turned 18 and is in excellent condition!
    The best of everything to you, JJ, Ella, and Riley.



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