We celebrated both Father's Day and Mark's 49th birthday on June 18th.
Today is Mark's 49th birthday! It's kind of a shock to Mark that he's just one year away from turning fifty. During the days of his addictions, he often said he didn't expect to live to see even his fortieth birthday. "Live hard, burn out young" was his motto. My response was always, "It's not when you die that's at issue; it's what will your quality of life be if you live on?"
And now, here he is, clean and sober almost six years. Still alive, with a clean bill of health. Fortunately, he faced down the life-threatening issue of his atrial fibrillation and came out of it okay. He saw his cardiologist last week, and his heartbeat, pulse, and blood pressure are all still normal. Dr. Ata is even taking him off the blood-thinning medication. The ablation they performed last July did its job. And so, celebrating this milepost with Mark is an especially great pleasure for his family.
Mark's stack of gifts await.
With a birthdate of June 21st, Mark's birthday always coincides with Father's Day. Many times over the years, in fact, the two events have actually fallen on the same date. This year they were separated by just two days, so we decided to celebrate both together on Sunday. With all of our children married and on their own, working jobs with varying schedules, it made better sense to mark Mark's birth when we were already together for our weekly Sunday family dinner.
Mark can't wait to see what Dylan and Jake got him.
We began with a dinner of grilled steaks and green salad, as requested by the big guy himself. The steaks were grilled to perfection!
After dinner, Sarah and I made a run over to my dad's house to give him a Fathers Day card and a big slice of my homemade sugar-free chocolate-chip cheesecake. Dad and Kathy had just returned from a barbecue they'd attended with some of their bowling friends. We visited with him for about half an hour, and then we returned to finish celebrating with Mark.
Mark reads through a pun-y card from Sarah and Chris.
Next up was the opening of presents. From Dylan and Jake, he received a pair of new slippers (his old pair was getting quite grungy), two packs of cigarettes (yuck), and three Hershey bars (Mark loves his chocolate).
Sarah and Chris gave him a bag of chocolate candies (see previous parenthetical comment) and a $40 gift card to be used for a new fishing license. Mark's eyes lit up at that.
Just before Mark began opening his gifts, Jacob called from Utah and spoke to his dad for a few minutes. He said he'd be mailing Mark's gifts soon, so we still get to look forward to seeing the gifts from Jacob and Danielle.
All of the presents Mark got for this holiday!
For his Father's Day gifts, I gave Mark a "No. 1 Dad" coffee mug and a wall plaque, with hooks, proclaiming "Dad's Workshop." He doesn't really have a workshop, per se, but I figured he could hang things on it in his bedroom, like belts or caps, etc. Lastly, for his birthday present, I gave him a tool case containing a socket wrench set. He's been telling me he needed socket wrenches for a variety of projects since May. Like repairing the lawnmower.
Mark poses with all his gifts.
Mark with two of the three reasons we honor him on Father's Day: Sarah and Dylan!
Mark also requested an ice cream cake for his party, so we brought out the banana split-flavored ice cream cake after the gifts had all been opened. (Mark loves banana splits, too. And so do I.) Sarah and I are dieting, as usual, so for us I made the sugar-free cheesecake. Which turned out deliciously creamy and mildly tangy (the trick is to add 1/4 tsp of orange extract), so we weren't feeling deprived.
And, by the way, I'd like to brag that Sarah has lost 53.4 lbs since she bought her ticket for David Archuleta's concert (which is only two days away now). Motivation helps! And she looks GREAT!!
Mark looks a little overwhelmed by the goofiness of his progeny.
Of course, Mark's birthday is just the start of our summer birthday season. Next up will be Jacob's 26th birthday on this coming Monday (June 26). We're so sad we won't be there to celebrate with him, but I'm mailing him a package today with gifts from me and his dad inside.
And then the following Saturday (July 1) will be Dylan's 20th birthday. That means I'll no longer have a teenage child! Am I ready for this? Oh, yes. Yes, I think I am...
My homemade sugar-free chocolate-chip cheesecake, fresh from the oven.
And my cheesecake flipped and presented nicely on a serving plate.
And it's not over yet! Tonight we'll be going to El Rancho for dinner, where the wait staff will put a sombrero on Mark's head and sing to him, after serving him a free dish of deep-fried ice cream. It's kind of a Carter family tradition. I'll be sure to post a picture or two tonight on Facebook.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARK!
And, finally, the traditional off-key rendition of the "Happy Birthday Song"!