Recently I had a birthday.
It was brought to my attention by a Happy-Birthday phone call from a Guelph dwelling sister-in-law.
Though the date had rung a bell earlier in the week I had temporarily forgotten about it. Ever since our kids had grown, and every shelf in our house was filled with crazy little mementos of happy birthday occasions, the Little Lady and I toned down our gift giving, and got in the habit of going out to dine in one of our favourite restaurants.
When my sister-in-law asked me what number I had reached, I had to do a double count. The fact that the phone had rung just as I stepped from the shower, left me, though dripping wet, with no problem in counting to 21. When I did a doubled count I came up with 42. But the fact that the Little Lady and I had both stopped counting when we each reached the age of plenty-nine, left me in a bit of a conundrum coming up with the correct answer.
I knew I had beaten the Biblical allotment of three score years and ten, after which, I believe, you enter second childhood, but I couldn’t remember whether it was by one, two, three, or four. It could have been less but I think not possibly more. If it happens to be the latter of that list of numbers, it would indicate to me that I only have 30 more years in which to live, as I have set my goal at 104.The fact that all of my life I have tried, with unusual success, at being on time for every appointment, has led me to believe that it would not be overly unfair to be late for just one appointment.
The number 34, my age when I stopped smoking, followed by “years late,” while in the forefront of, “for my own funeral,” had such a nice ring to it. That, coupled with the fact that its tone was so much more resilient, when tacked onto the three score and ten Biblical allotment, left an easily decided decision on setting 104 as my goal. So you see, folks, I have every intention of sticking around, to harass your thoughts long into the future.
In the meantime, through the magic of the internet, and courtesy of email, let me pass on to you the  proposed intentions of my sister, who is older, and perhaps wiser than I propose to be. And who resides, as she has for many years, in a sunset facing residence, overlooking the massive, ship travelled St. Claire River, in the northern suburbs of Sarnia. It goes exactly like this:
Gonna be a bear
In this life, I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.
When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
If you’re mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.
If you’re a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
Yup. I’m gonna be a bear.
* * *
So there you have it folks, my sister’s come-back wish.
But don’t you go worrying about me, I don’t need to come back, I already discreetly harbour each and every one of those traits.
Take care, ‘cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins