Today is my 61st birthday.

The title of this post is also the title of a picture Billy Crystal made about the 1961 major-league baseball season and Roger Maris’s 61 home runs, which broke the record set by Babe Ruth by exactly one. Maris hit it on the last day of a 162-game season, whereas Babe Ruth managed his 60 in 154 games. Similarly, here I am, still alive and well after 61 years, but with some shame and much loss.

Yesterday I got an early birthday present from my daughter, this framed 2003 photograph of me and my best friend, Bill:

bill n gary 2003

Life changes us. About six years after this picture was taken, Bill took ill with his final illness. Two years later my marriage ended. And this year I lost both a Sweetheart and the community we lived in when I moved back to Phoenix. But on the positive side, the double chin I sport in the above photograph has been greatly reduced. I also have real Joy in my life–my steady and sparkle-eyed girlfriend, Joy Riner Taylor.

And: two days ago my ex-wife offered me a glass of wine, which I gratefully accepted. And: more than five dozen people have Happy Birthdayed me on Facebook, and the day isn’t even half over. And: my former sweetheart texted me with the hope that my wishes come true.

And: five minutes ago I spoke to Tom Sing, best man at my wedding and one of my oldest friends. He and I have overlapping philosophies, and like minds, and hearing from him made my day.

This afternoon there will be a karaoke event on the occasion of my birthday, and it will no doubt provide fodder for my next blog post. Till then, Friends, may you enjoy your own Great Human Adventure.


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