In the Suburbs: Birthday wish list contains few surprises and much hope

I chuckled last Sunday at the bookstore when a delightful lady asked me if I was taking Prevagen when I knew exactly where to find the book she wanted. My polite answer was, “No Ma’am. I just shelved the book yesterday in our science section, but my memory is pretty good.”

I hope I won’t have to depend on Prevagen after I enter my 77th year this coming Sunday. Thankfully, my mind and memory seem to be working just fine for an aging dude and I hope that continues.

Actually, after last year’s Pandemic non-celebration, I am approaching this birthday with a practical wish list. At the top of the list is sharing more good times with my wife. We remain each other’s loving (most of the time) companions and best friends. After nearly 55 years, she might even surprise me with a donut from my favorite spot: Crazy Donuts in Stratford.

I am wishing for continued joy from our two miracle grandsons, Lucas and Caleb. They truly keep me young and busy. It seems so hard to believe that Caleb, whose birthday is just five days before mine, is already 2 and running around all the time. Lucas, whose birthday is also this month on the 27th, just keeps getting taller.

And I am wishing for more happy times with our two daughters, Stacey and Jeri, and Jeri’s wonderful husband Gervasio. Sadly, we haven’t seen as much of Jeri and Gervasio, because of travel restrictions — they are in Michigan, but we’re all hoping to be together this Thanksgiving in Virginia with my brother and my wife’s family.

I am wishing for a good, pre-birthday weigh in this Saturday at Weight Watchers. And I am wishing for a good workout at the gym with my trainer.

Of course, my biggest wish is for continued good health. At the ripe old age of 77, I have never felt so good. My energy, as my wife continues to remind me, is in the “normal range of manic” and friends call me the Energizer Bunny. My cardiologist, whom I see every six months, has told me he is very happy with how my medical profile looks and is hopeful that I’ll live at least as long as my dad, who was nearly 97 when he passed four years ago.

Work continues to be my personal brand of Prevagen. I will begin my ninth year at Bridge Academy in Bridgeport this fall, teaching a reading program; and I’m starting my ninth year at the Fairfield University Bookstore. I love working and being busy and have no intention of retiring any time soon, if ever. As long as I can keep my mind focused and pace myself as an aging dude should, I hope to go on learning from my students and customers.

I just finished my fourth summer as a teacher in the Upward Bound program, teaching a great course I developed called, “Making a Difference.” The students, who are all college bound, were amazing and were really interested in learning about outlets for giving and giving back. Hearing how much they had discovered about charities and causes was my best birthday present and their final presentations were amazing.

I’m missing our quilting guild and hoping we can be more consistent about attending in the coming year. I had cut out pieces for a wall hanging about dogs a few months ago when our quilt guild meetings were starting again, but I’ve yet to finish it. So I’m wishing to attend more regularly and finish my project before Christmas. I have missed the consistency and support of our meetings.

I am hopeful by my next birthday that my wife’s back and hip issues will improve or that she will have had successful surgery. This has been a very up and down summer for her, filled with doctor’s consultations and concerns. I’m just thankful that she is finally beginning some physical therapy for her back on Monday.

My very low key birthday celebrations this year will probably include lunch with close friends on Friday, dinner out with my wife on Sunday after I finish work at the bookstore, and more of a group get together next weekend for Caleb and me. And that’s exactly how I’d like it to be.

No gifts for me. Family and friends are my most treasured gifts. And my hope is that the coming year will bring only good health, good work and good times.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at