I was 7 years old and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was January 18, 1968 and I was celebrating my 7th birthday with my family and I felt very happy and I enjoyed the attention despite my shyness. I always enjoyed having cake and a cold glass of milk and having it on my birthday was extra special. I remember my family would sing happy birthday which made me feel good and I remember this year, 1968 especially because my baby sister was now part of the family and she was 6 months old. We were a family of 5 now and it was a time now when I was in school and starting to learn about life.
Every year after that I became a year older and a year wiser and as a kid I would welcome my birthday and I would enjoy receiving gifts and good wishes from my family and friends. As a kid life seemed simpler and we always looked to our parents for guidance. They were happy times and the memories were everlasting. We seemed to enjoy celebrating our birthdays as kids more because we didn’t mind getting older. We actually looked forward to growing up.
Now as I celebrate my birthday my feelings are much more different as I feel like the time is flying by and I am at a point in my life now where I had to confront many sad things that made me realize that life is only for a brief period of time and when we lose someone close to us it really hurts and affects us in our lives. We must always put on a brave face and go about our lives as if everything is fine and that is not an easy thing to do. I find as a father of a young son I am always concerned for his well being and for his safety and for his future. I always want to be there for him and for Maria and I know we have so many uncertainties in life and we are always trying to be as prepared as we can to deal with all the things we have to encounter in our life. I am a very good hearted person and I owe that to my upbringing and my parents who taught us to always be grateful for the things we have because there are so many who have very little. They taught me to love and respect others and to treat them the way I would want to be treated. I always try to look at the good in everything but sometimes I do struggle with things I see in the world as there is so much sadness and suffering and it just seems so unfair that some have so much and others have so little.
I know what it is like to have fear and anxiety and to feel depressed and I find as I get older that I am dealing more with depression and I feel it is a major reason my parents had difficulties as they got older. Depression is not good as it robs you of all the good and makes you feel like you are not in control like you once were. I seen it with my mom and I seen it with my dad and I know when I have these feelings that I need to discuss them with my doctor because I have tremendous responsibilities with work and with my family life. I have an autistic son that needs to have the proper love and support and guidance. I always try to instill in my son all the good I learned and teach him so he understands how to live his life and to take on challenges and do his best. I want my son to have high self esteem and a feeling of inner confidence. As autistic children grow it is very important that you support them and encourage them and help them with their skills development especially in social settings.
My son gives me inspiration and he warms my heart every time I see him. The special part of life that gives us joy and happiness is our children and though I am getting older I am enjoying seeing my son grow and mature and develop as a person and I am so very proud of him. I look forward to seeing him achieve his milestones and that is what makes me happy nowadays. So I realize as the time goes by how important it is to spend the time with my wife and son and to never lose sight of what is most important which is seeing Matty experience true happiness and joy in his life and teach him what life is all about and prepare him for the future and discuss with him that we will experience many things in our life both happy and sad and we need to learn how to balance them both. I wish I could assure my son that I will always be there for him and that is my intention and my wish.
So as I celebrate another birthday I am just so happy to be sharing it with Maria, Matty and my mother-in-law, Terry because we all rely on each other and we all need each other and because my family gives me great joy and happiness and when I hear my son say “Dad, I miss you” or “Dad, Thank you”, or “Dad, I love you”, that is the best birthday present I could ever ask for.
Edward D. Iannielli III