A 70th Birthday Letter


Thank You

From a proud dad, aka Gary, Big Guy, Papa Bear, or just plain Pops.


Connie's gift to  be added to the Western North Carolina local art display in our back yard during the summer months.

Life's a Journey, Not a Guided Tour.

I want to thank those special people in my life; John Peter, Hopie, Mark, Matthew, and Billy. And of course Connie who arranged a late surprise birthday party, thinking within around two to three weeks before, "Gee, what do you get a 70-year old husband." And the answer she came up with, "Maybe the kids could come down for a day or so and say hello" . . . at the last minute?

Click on the photo to go to a page of the kids four years ago in WNC.
Hope with daughter, Kaydence.

I want to first thank John and Mark for taking a few days off, John driving down while Mark flew down so he could get back within two days to commit to other promises.

As I write this, our Hopie is with child and was not expected to be able to attend with three weeks left before the birth of her second child, while also being responsible for a very active daughter of three.

Matthew already lives near-by, working in a restaurant and not able to arrive until the next day. But he brought a wonderful homemade chocolate cake from a Burnsville, North Carolina, restaurant. The icing was so special the cake didn't last two days. Thanks again, Matt.

Billy visits his mom in March 2011 for her 70th Birthday.

Billy, my stepson, had commitments but took time to send some nice birthday cards. One of them read (see bottom of page): "Large Bowl of Chips, Extra Pillow, Case of [Root] Beer, Foot Rest, and TV Remote."

Yes, Billy has already been in the newer entertainment room, commanding the Captain's Chair.

For those who were not able to be here those two days in Western North Carolina, below are some photos from that surprise occasion. My thanks to John and Mark for taking the time to visit us in the beautiful mountains we retired to eight years ago. Can you believe how time flies?

I had been working on a Web module for the last three months and had been going to bed a few hours before sunrise. On the morning of my birthday, I was still working on the project and found myself going to sleep at 4 a.m. Then in early afternoon the doorbell rang, and Connie rushed into the bedroom to wake me. It was close to 1 p.m. Hurry, Alan is here with his friend, she said, rushing me out of bed.

Alan is the roofer, who after all my doctors had walked away, recommended me to a physician that had saved his life and would later save mine. Alan is on disability, unable to work on roofs anymore due to balance issues. He drives around in a little yellow VW with its roof cut off, and affectionately calls me Bubba.

On my God, I thought, he must think I always go to bed when the sun rises.

After I quickly dressed, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and came out to the living room . . . and OMG, it was Mark and John standing there saying, Happy Birthday, Dad.

I was so stunned, looking for Alan, I said like an idiot, Why aren't you guys at work!

Then I realized why they weren't at work. They were standing in front of me. There was John, ready to turn 32, Mark ready to turn 30. The years had gone too fast. I remember when they all were little kids trick or treating in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.

John brought me the book, "Reckless Endangerment," which I had not read but placed the cover on my 900-page conservative Web portal under how the American housing market collapsed under Democrat rule from the 1990's. Connie and I have been directly affected, our home at the time of this writing valued at less than what we bought it for although our credit is perfect.

The room's components have been upgraded with 65-inch HDTV, a 7.1 Onkyo sound system with four speakers in the ceiling behind the seating area, and a Blu Ray player with Netflix streaming and Dish Network.

Then Mark handed me a gift for the entertainment room, a Blu Ray collector's item from the BBC, Planet Earth, all stored in a beautiful globe-shaped case you can view here.

Connie and I built the room over three years ago after Dr. Rosner saved my life in surgery. After eight months of healing, I was able to start working on the room a few hours a day. Eight months later it was done.

We hired a carpenter to nail in the studs and to help me line up the holes in the sheetrock for the electrical outlets and light switches. Connie and I did the rest. I ran 600 feet of wiring tied to 19 high hats and a breaker box.

The day before Mark had to fly, we had lunch on my 70th birthday in the Red Room in The Stoney Knob Grill in Weaverville. Then that night we all went to dinner at the Yoshita Restaurant in Asheville. We had a great time, the employees singing happy birthday while a Japanese cook pounded a beat on a ceremonial drum. We then spent the remainder of the evening watching one of Mark's Planet Earth's Blu Ray HDTV disks. Of course, I had to make popcorn for everyone to give the theater experience with the real aroma of the movies.

It all made for great memories on a 70th birthday. And I really must be getting old, because Mark beat me paying the check at Yoshita. For more images at the restaurant, John and Mark may have extras on their SmartPhones from the event.

He's baaack!
Note: Mickey passed away on April 1, 2014

And of course life would not be normal without Mickey and John getting to know each other again. Suddenly within minutes Mickey was sitting on her back against John with her feet in the air, a look on her face remembering when he lived with us. She must really love him, as she tolerates a lot that I usually can't get away with.

And so I end this letter with a thank you from a loving dad, so very proud of all of you.

Now that Connie and I are both 70, we find ourselves growing more tired during the day. But with keeping my Web site current during the week, Connie working on her book and poems, and the stress removed from previous demanding jobs, we can still remain relatively active.

It's all part of the aging process we hadn't fully understood until now, realizing the next train station in life is 80th street, God willing. Peace!

Love, Dad


Friends Are Friends Forever . . .

We always watched Michael singing this song when our kids were growing up in Jersey.



A special thanks to Connie for this sweet personal birthday card and a very special 70th birthday surprise. We celebrate our 24th Anniversary on November 22, 2011.

The song playing is dedicated to her after 24 years of marriage. While being an excellent mom to her own children, Chuck and Billy, she also helped me raise my four kids when they were just "so high."

Knowing today, 24 years later, that those young kids are now with people who love them and / or in excellent jobs, is a special gift in itself for me when reaching 70.

Thanks to all of you from a very loving and grateful dad.

"When October Goes" is a ballad based on a lyric Johnny Mercer had written but did not complete. It was matched up to a melody by Barry Manilow and published in 1984, becoming one of the top Adult Contemporary hits of that year in the United States" - Wikipedia






"Freedom is Knowledge"