A Birthday Gift for Me

Kelly Sanderson

Kelly Sanderson

I remember like it was yesterday; sitting on the edge of the hospital bed holding you in my arms. You were wrapped up tight in a baby blanket with a stocking cap on your head just looking at me. Looking at me! We were alone in the room and while I’m sure I was mumbling something to you, without any warning, I cried.

There is something special about that moment we shared. We didn’t have any history to look back on and with only our future ahead of us I knew we would be okay. How could I be responsible for something so small and precious? I’m not used to this as I can barely take care of myself. I mean, it was the ’80s and is this stone-washed denim I’m wearing? Really?

It’s hard for a father to tell his daughter how he feels. While there are so many ways and lots words to say, it all gets lost in general conversation. But life is to short to not tell you how a I feel. Without trying, and at that moment you gave me a purpose. A life-changing moment that rearranged my priorities and gave me a reason to work hard and set a good example. After all, I wouldn’t want to embarrass you. Okay, it was the ’80s and some of that wasn’t my fault.

I’m so very proud of you. You have grown into the woman I always thought you would be. A great mother, a wonderful wife, a great sister and of course, a beautiful daughter. You have an effortless way about you and through it all you have an amazing sense of humor. I know how you deal with bumps in the road and humor is one of them. Your laughter makes me laugh and if nothing else in life, we have that. You recently sent me a text that you’ve come to realize that when so many things aren’t going your way, you have to come to appreciate the little things in life. To also be happy and thankful for what you have and how quickly we forget that, and how things always seem to work out. When you said that, it felt like a shift had come from me giving you advice to you telling me “everything’s going to be okay.”

You will always be that mop-topped little strawberry blonde that danced around in the dresses you insisted on wearing. It’s crazy how you have grown into a beautiful woman and remained my little girl all at the same time.

Today is your birthday and as hard as it is for you to realize this, it is you who gave me the gift. Happy birthday Kelly, I love you!

Dropping Anchor in San Diego Bay

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If there is one thing I truly enjoy, it would be meeting new people. Recently while flying to San Diego California for a motorcycle dealer show (my first trip to California), I sat next to a gentleman who, quite obviously was traveling for business as well, wearing a suit jacket and slacks. In my line of work, business casual is just that – minus the business. Blue jeans, tennis shoes and a work shirt are sufficient and from the untrained eye it would appear I was just an average guy on a plane. Who am I kidding, I’m just average no matter how you dress me. As the flight took off from DFW we sat mostly silent in our seats. During the first few minutes of the flight we could over-hear two random passengers talking about airplanes, their history, books they’ve read and some museums they both have been to. What luck, I thought, that two guys from different corners of this country could find each other and have so much in common and be seated that close for the next couple of hours. I made the comment “sounds like they were made for each other” and my friend next to me said “yes, and it is very interesting to listen to.” I agreed, and now the ice was broken and our own conversation took off.

 And as we talked, I realized that we too, are from different corners of this country and in some random strategy that only the airlines can come up with, placed us right next to each other. He is from Atlanta and just recently moved there with his work. I am from a small town in Kansas with the apparent boat anchor tied to my ankle.

We talked about the usual – where are you headed, what do you do and where are you from – mixed with some smaller details of family, life and business. And as we talked, I realized that we too, are from different corners of this country and in some random strategy that only the airlines can come up with, placed us right next to each other. He is from Atlanta and just recently moved there with his work. I am from a small town in Kansas with the apparent boat anchor tied to my ankle. He oversees a national sales force with about 140 employees selling medical devices and I sell motorcycles to those who I hope will never need such medical devices. A common thread being my daughter Kelly has had the Harrington rods placed in her back from Scoliosis. He asked how, after all these years, she was doing with them, and I thought back to the days of when she was going through that. He talked of the challenges he has with his line of work, and I could fully relate.

As most conversations do, it turned to politics and family, social media and the likes, and how this world is changing right before our eyes. He spoke of his ten-year old son, Jackson, who has a great relationship with his grandmother, wants to have a little more responsibility at home, and how his two children and wife are why he does what he does. Losing time with family at home to travel to a meeting in San Diego is a sacrifice, but right now it’s what he needs to do. Work hard, and enjoy the moments you have when you get home. Originally from Texas, he said that having family nearby was great, and they still get there once a month or so to visit. I, on the other hand, have my folks right down the street and most of my family is close enough that it really isn’t that big of a deal.

A lot in common? Sure. Different? Not in a bad way. For a couple of hours I had a great conversation with someone who I could relate to. So often we sit and not say a word, when the individual sitting right next to us is so much like us, or better yet, so different from us that it will be interesting either way. The plane landed and we shook hands. I wished him well and safe travels as I would any of my closest friends, and he was gone. I would like to think in this great big world, that I left an impression on him. We often move about our day and don’t realize the impact we might have on someone, and he had an impact on me. I learned something about the business he is in and I would like to think he got off the plane and thought the same about me. I wonder if he noticed the mark around my ankle where the boat anchor used to be.