Marking another birthday reminds me of how fortunate I am

By the time many of you read this, I will have celebrated yet another birthday, my 69th.

The inexorable tolling of birthdays is a reminder the passage of time is having its effect on us just like it does to all those around us. Can’t help but smile as I hear relative youngsters proclaim their loss of “youth” as they hit such idle stepping stones as 30, 40 or (gasp!) 50. There are 80 year old readers with hearts as young as ever, who are chuckling right now over these thoughts.

Someone once said “Aging is an extraordinary process where you gradually become the person you should have been.”

I like that.

Aging, obviously, brings lots of things we might just as soon do without: wrinkles, liver spots, creaking limbs, a balding head, slower gait, weakened hearing ... I could go on, but why? Aging certainly is an obstacle course presenting stumbling blocks and the occasional uphill climb toward where we’re headed.

There are many good aspects to aging, however. My favorite might be summed in one word: satisfaction.

Much of our lives are filled with goals we work toward. Being able to drive, to graduate, to begin our career, to advance, to find a mate, to start a family, to build a home. On and on we move through our lives with our “eyes on the prize.”

As the years go by, those prizes change. Some become less desirable, even changing into something we never anticipated – unnecessary and cumbersome.

My favorite story of the dream that became a burden is one many of you might relate to — the big house.

Like many young families, as our brood enlarged, we moved gradually upward in size to homes that were, in many eyes, gargantuan.

I remember having rooms in one home where the most use we ever gave them was to merely walk through to get to another room. Even in our relatively new “downsized” home, we still have spare space we could — in my mind — do without. The wife does not agree and that, obviously, is why we have it. “Happy wife, happy life” is one phrase that never loses its stock.

Looking back on my career in being your editor for more than 48 of my 69 years, it is indisputable that aging has made my job easier. What eagerness, enthusiasm and youthful vigor once toiled to achieve, seems to come easier with the advantages of gray hair and more thoughtful planning.

With the passage of another year, comes the perennial question: “What would you like to get for your birthday?”

Such a question brings to mind one of the only true ways to measure wealth. What do I need?


What do I want?

While it’s tempting to again answer nothing, that wouldn’t be quite true.

The only thing I want may be the only thing I truly need: more time with my grandchildren and the rest of my family. My hopes no longer yearn for awards or honors, for recognition or wealth.

Let me hold my bride close and hear Eli’s gurgles, Jaxson’s squeals of delight. Let me rejoice in Camille and Zoie’s teen activities or Hope and Preston’s play and adventures. Let me watch our children advance their careers and raise their children.

As a reporter, I’ve spent my life watching all of you and recording what you’ve done. I still enjoy that, but, at age 69, what I really want most is to watch my family.

With this goal in mind, bring on lots more birthdays!

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email:


Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at