The Story of My Life

April 19, 2012

It was in the small mountain town of San Felipe, Chile that I embarked on this amazing journey called life. My young Canadian parents were missionaries in Chile and I was the second child to arrive during their stay. At the time of my birth, my Dad was doing a religious broadcast on the local radio station. He rushed to finish the broadcast and to get to the hospital – only to discover that I had already been born.

My arrival, though wonderfully healthy, was not without its related issues. The Chilean officials did not recognize the legitimacy of my parent’s Canadian marriage license, and as a result my Chilean birth papers clearly indicate that I was illegitimate.

I still have the actual birth certificate in my possession. I also have the telegram that was delivered to my grandparent’s home in Canada announcing my arrival. All it said was… “Tommy Arrived Eleven Bothhwell”.

You might scratch your head a little at the message, but it makes perfect sense when you consider that telegrams fees were charged by the word. So, in an attempt to say everything that needed to be said in as few words as possible, my Dad shortened it, much like a Twitter message. What he was really saying was “Tommy arrived at eleven o’clock. Both he and his mother are well.” I’m still not sure why the extra “h” was added? Possibly, it will go down as the first Tweet with a spelling mistake.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of celebrating 46 reminders of that day along the way. This year – the 47th.

And the more of them I have celebrated, the more I come to this marker of my own length of stay on the planet with a deeper sense of the incredible gift of life that I have been given. Despite some bumps and frustrations along the way, I am lucky to say mine is a wonderful story. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve seen and experienced a lot. I have accomplished many things I am proud of and more than ever, I love the life I now have. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

But I also face the unavoidable reality that I have fewer years now than ever. As Steve Miller pointed out in his 1976 song, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.”  I’m discovering that time – at this age – seems to slip faster than ever.

So my birthday is a strong reminder to me that there are unfinished chapters in my story.  I have much left to do. And even bigger things to accomplish. There are challenges I still need to face. There is a lot to learn and to share. There is more love to give and countless memories yet to make. There is another book to write. And many more speeches to give.

I want this life of mine to be a magnificent story. At this point in my life, I am keenly aware that I am the author of my story and today and every day I have the opportunity to write another new page. And I’ve decided the story is about to get better.

This “illegitimate” Chilean-born, Canadian missionary kid’s story is about to add some wonderful new chapters to the first 47. Stay tuned.

How about you? How is your story unfolding? What new chapters are you writing into it? What big things do you have left to do?

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it great!

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