Birthdays happen every day, but how often do we take the time to actually celebrate birthdays? I’m not talking about just throwing a party, or writing a card, I’m talking about reflecting on life. Maybe it’s in my nature to do so because I love writing lists, but I encourage you to do the same. If someone you love’s birthday is coming up, celebrate the memories of them that you have. Celebrate their birth and presence in this world and what it has meant to your life, and, most importantly, tell them of the impact they have made. There is no better present on your birthday than being reminded of how important your life has been.——Take the time today to share your gratitude with others. Thank them for being themselves and let them know how much your cherish the memories you share with them.
Today, I celebrate my older brother Nick’s birthday. I celebrate our memories together and the impact that he has made upon me as a brother, mentor and friend. ——Nick, my list of thirty memories to you to celebrate your thirtieth:——1986: We spent hours swing on the front porch swing, dreaming of Olympic gold medals. 1986: You let me play He-Man & Masters of the Universe with you. Sometimes, you would let me substitute my Barbie for She-Ra and let Barbie sit in Castle Greyskull as queen. 1988: I realized the correlation between your birthday and the peaking beauty of the Fall leaves changing colors and I was jealous that you got a birthday present from Mother Nature and I didn’t. 1988: At the church picnic we did a grab-bag relay and you had to eat a huge chunk of blue cheese. To this day, you won’t eat blue cheese; your expression of disgust was knee-slap hilarious. 1989: You rocked a daring mohawk at Poseiden’s Summer Swim Meet; I was six years old and spent the entire meet trying to hang around you and all your cool friends with mohawks while you played cards in between events. 1989: Seaside Park, NJ, you did your first mile and a half-open water swim as an 8-year-old, right after we had a huge dinner. I remember standing on the dock thinking you were a superstar when you won a trophy for being the youngest competitor. 1990: I hated playing with little army men, but we did because I knew that you would never play Barbies with me. 1990s: Our number one fight? We fought over who finished the last bit of cereal and/or milk in the morning. 1990s: We were stealth pros at sneaking cookies from the cookie jar in the kitchen together! 1990s: You and Grandpa Pollin were kings are bodysurfing at the Jersey Shore, I would do my best to try to keep up with you guys, but always relied on you to tell me when a good enough wave was coming. 1992: We did our first Zones meet together in Buffalo, NY; I remember being geared up in our blue Virgina uniforms and how you explained all the how-tos of my first real big meet to me, including how to use the warm-up and cool-down diving well. Also, I was chased down by girls from other states trying to give me their names and numbers to give to you. This was the beginning of the flood of girls that obsessed over you during childhood. 1992: I used to love to hit you, then cry and tattle to Mom, saying that you hit me. You would always get punished and I would smirk. I’ve always meant to apologize for my childhood manipulation and tattling. 1992: The first time Mom gave us permission to people watch up on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights at night — I think our curfew was 8:00pm, but we saw some really cool, freaky people. 1992: You spent this entire year pretending to spot elves, Santa’s sleigh, and the tooth fairy. I was always devastated to have not seen them and you would tease me relentlessly about my vision. I spent nights trying to stay awake to catch these mysterious visions. 1993: You were as excited about my National Record as I was. This was the beginning of the Blackwell Luck joke — my good luck and your dodgy luck that still follows us to this day. 1995: During our first family trip to West Virginia for white water rafting on the New River, Dad plummeted into the rapids on a Category 4 rapid; Mom panicked, I screamed, Dad floated, and you actually helped him get back into the raft. 1995: You refused to have a sister who didn’t know how to throw well. All I wanted to do was to play soccer in the backyard, but for you to play with me, you made me throw the football and the frisbee for an hour. Then you would play five minutes of soccer with me. 1996: We spent our summer nights playing golf at Lake of the Woods: dusk evenings were spent smelling backyard bbqs, fixing my horrible slice shot, and dreaming together from hole to hole. 1998: At Virginia Beach you would make me walk twenty feet behind you when we walked on the beach so that none of the girls on the beach would think we were together. You wanted to be sure that everyone knew I was only your sister and I was fine with it. 2001: I gave my Senior Chapel Talk at Chatham Hall in your honor, you and Mom came, brought me flowers and cried a bit. 2001: During my Davidson College recruiting trip, you were over-protective and proud, introducing me to hundreds of people and making sure I got the perfect college experience, ultimately helping me make my decision to attend Davidson in your footsteps. 2002: The first time I ever thought about doing an Ironman was because of you — we were stretching together after a swim practice at Davidson and we decided that one day, once we could actually run for more than two miles straight, that we would do an Ironman together. 2002: You took up the sport of diving your Senior year in college because your team needed the points, you were not afraid to try something new and do what you needed as a team captain. 2003: You threatened to take my trip from France if I didn’t get help for my eating disorder — I remember every detail of this conversation. 2004: We celebrated Christmas in the Dominican Republic for our first real family vacation; we jogged every morning on the beach and golf course to stay in shape for training trip. 2007: I convinced you to do an hour-long shoulder workout in Chicago with me and my hard-core body-builder friend. You hated the workout, but completed it without complaining. 2007: You took a day-off from your Archeology Conference to spend a day in Chicago with me. The day was freezing and snowy, we walked around trying to sightsee while I spent the day crying and you just tried to make me smile. 2008: On New Year’s Eve/Day you saved my life and gave me the courage to make a major life change and to move back east. 2009: Tailgating at Redskins games with you and watching how you bleed burgundy and gold makes me love football. 2010: We tried to fly a kite at Seaside Park, failed miserably but still have a great time running like kids on the beach.