Here's to 39

by Chris Dooley

In case you didn't realize it, a big day has just passed in our little town. On June 4th, yours truly just turned the ripe old age of thirty nine. So I thought that in this column, I'd dedicate it to the things that I'm most thankful for in my life. First of all, I'd like to thank God for 39 trips around the sun. Every day that passes is never a guarantee, it's a gift. I've been very blessed by the life that I've had the pleasure of living for almost the last 4 decades. I've had my fair share of ups and downs but overall, I've had a great fulfilling life. I'd like to thank my family, both immediate and extended, for everything they do for me. For the most part, my family is a tight knit group of people bound together by love. I've also got all kinds of good memories growing up as a kid with my family.

I, also, couldn't go without mentioning all of my friends I have far and near from me. I've always been sort of shy growing up, but the older that I got the more I blossomed out of my shell. People tell me that I've got a sweet personality and that I'm often hilarious. They compare my wit to the sharpest knife in the drawer. I've spent a whole lot of time being down on myself the last 39 years, perhaps more than anyone reasonably should have been. A lot of times, I've been my own worst enemy. I'm a worry-wart, an overthinker and overly anxious to a fault. My nerves and patience aren't as good as they used to be, but I'm working on it. But through all of that, my true friends never gave up on me. It didn't matter if I had plenty of money or not a dime to my name to go hang out with them, they'd never let me miss out on a fun time. I never wore fashionable clothes or name brand shoes, but the people that loved me just loved me anyway, no matter how many holes were in my shoes.

My dad is up in heaven, this is my 6th birthday without you here. I hope that as another year has passed that I have made you proud of me and given you something to look down at me and smile about. You helped raise me with faith and good values, so I hope that you don't shake your head too much looking down at me in all the ways that I regularly tend to fall apart. I've tried to be a better person the past few years of my life and change myself into a person more worth loving, and as much as I've bragged about having so many people in my corner, I know there's also a lot of people out there for whatever reason they may have that simply just don't like me. Maybe they've got a reason to, because during the time in my life when I wasn't the person I needed to be, I burned a lot of bridges. Some of those bridges I burned, I sat them on fire instead of the other way around. So maybe they hold a grudge against me for some of the mistakes I've made in the past and I understand it if they don't like me, because there's been several days in my life that I didn't like me either.

But I hope those people who don't care much about me and those who love me unconditionally can find common ground to stand on when it comes to me. I'm not a perfect person, I've never claimed to be and never will. In fact, if you called me a deeply flawed insecure person, I couldn't argue that point against you. But with all of those flaws, I still feel like I'm someone worth getting to know and worth loving. Because while I've seen myself at my absolute rock bottom worst, I've also seen myself at my absolute best. I'm talking about donating money secretly to funerals that nobody, not even my own family knows about to this day. I didn't do it for the glory of it, that's why I went when nobody was at the funeral home and paid for it & instructed them to not even mention my name for doing it. Or I'm talking about in 2016, when I rounded up over a thousand dollars worth of food, toys and other commodities for a give away in our town. It wasn't sponsored by a group or a club, it came out of my pocket and the pockets of everyone who believed in my cause enough to donate to me. I didn't do it for the glory of getting recognized from it, the only thing I got for it was the warmth in my heart from making a few people's day who needed it. I went to the nursing home and gave out goody bags of those commodities and other things to several of the residents until I ran out of stuff. I sat with them in their rooms and heard their heartbreaking stories of how a lot of them never got a phone call or visit from their friends and family, not even on Christmas. It broke my heart, but in a good way because I knew that even if for that one night, I made someone's day.

So, why you may have known who I am the last 39 years, I can't say that a whole lot of people genuinely KNOW the REAL me. Because the real Chris Dooley has put food in the mouths of people who've talked about me like a dog. The real Chris Dooley, wiped tears away from peoples eyes who went on to put tears in mine. So before you underestimate me and take me for granted, ask yourself do you know the REAL me? Or just the person you've heard about me?

I have lived a blessed 39 years on this earth and hopefully I've got several more left in me before my time is done. But if I don't have long left, my life would still be worth it. I've seen the oceans, the Statue of liberty and a whole lot in between.

Happy Birthday to Me!