Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, we made it: 21 years… wow. Where has the time gone? I still remember the day I was born. It was a sunny June day in the mid-90s. My first thought was, “why is everybody inside out?” My second thought was, “DRIVE OJ, DRIVEEEEEE!” The rest of the 90s were kind of a blur to be honest.
So, today marks my 21st spin around the Sun, the beginning of my 22nd year on ‘The Shiny Blue’; or, as most people have come to call it: a “birthday”. Birthdays are a bit of a strange concept to me. I cannot help but think that the attention is directed towards the wrong person. In my view, birthdays should not be about showering the birthdayee with as many gifts and greeting cards as possible. Rather, the birthdayee should spend her or his ‘special day’ thanking the people who got them to that given point in her or his life. If anything, the birthdayee should be the one giving gifts, not receiving them.
After all, I did not remember being born (despite what I said a few sentences above), I did not have to change my diapers or rock myself to sleep, nor did I go to work every day to support myself while I was at school. I did not drive myself to playdates, freeze off my rear end watching community baseball, or spend countless hours preparing myself healthy meals. I was not the one who stayed up all night worrying about me as I went out with my friends and I was not the one who had to pick me up in the middle of the night when I was too drunk to drive home. I did not go grocery shopping three times a week to feed a pack of starving teenagers, and I was not the one who decided to work a couple of years more than I would have liked to help my child through university. I am not the one who has to walk past my empty room every morning or wonder what time zone I am every night. And I am certainly not the one that has given me the tools to be a (hopefully) successful person.
All of that was not me. Rather, it was you, my parents. It was my brother, grandparents, and other family members. It was my friends, teachers, professors, teammates, coaches, and employers. While today is “my” birthday, it is definitely not me that you should celebrate. If anything, I should be the one celebrating you, the people that got me this far; the ones who made me, well… me. Now unfortunately I do not have the financial means or technical prowess to send you all gifts. So in lieu of tangible presents I thought it would be fun to recount a memory (in three sentences or less) that I have from each of my 21 years. That way you can see how thankful I am for all you’ve done in making these past two decades the best I’ve ever had. Alright, here we go:
1994 – Age: 0
I’ve got nothing.
1995 – Age: 1
Still haven’t come online.
1996 – Age: 2
There was a fan in the 2 year-old room at Kidigarden. I remember Mom and Bradley sitting in the room waiting for me as I switched the fan settings from “1” to “3” and thinking it was the most amazing invention in the world.
1997 – Age: 3
Me, Bradley, and Mom went to visit my great-grandmother in the nursing home. I remember her in a hospital bed in a room full of other people in hospital beds. It was a sunny day and the room was filled with an orange glow.
1998 – Age: 4
I remember getting moved into the 4 year-old room at Kidigarden, which was sweet because it had this awesome loft in it. I also got in trouble for saying “fart”. I think it was around this time where Bradley almost succeeded in cutting off my finger in the front doors of Kidigarden.
1999 – Age: 5
As me and my grandfather (Zadia) sat on the white couch in the front room of my house on Pinetree Crescent, he told me that Tiger Woods was the best golf player in the world. Additionally, on New Year’s Eve we went to The Forks for the early fireworks. All I remember is seeing a totem pole and then sitting on the floor in the front room of my house to watch the TV countdown. I definitely fell asleep.
2000 – Age: 6
There was a thunderstorm on the first day of grade 1. I got scared and cried, but Bradley made me feel better. We also had to write our names on paper cut-outs that resembled grapes and put them on the door of our class for some reason.
I learned the order of all the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, 2000 EB173 (the latter was thought to be a dwarf planet – and yes, I did that without google. Thanks Ms. Nein!)
2001 – Age: 7
We moved from Pinetree Crescent to Saul Miller Drive (June 1st I think?). I remember Mom coming to pick up me and Bradley from school after 3rd recess so we could “help” move. Bradley cried every night for a couple weeks leading up to the big move.
2002 – Age: 8
I learned the meaning of the word ‘capacity’. My teacher, Miss Kohl poured water on a circular table. When the water filled the table, she told us that it was at full capacity.
2003 – Age: 9
I walked downstairs to find my dad on his stationary bike watching “Much Music Video Flow”. When I asked why, he replied that he wanted to “keep with the times”.
2004 – Age: 10
My Dad and I used our mini pool table for my science fair project. We did an experiment on kinetic energy. I’m pretty sure we built a home-made barometer that year too.
2005 – Age: 11
I swam my first practice with the Winnipeg Wave Swim Club. Coach Michael made me do 2 laps of freestyle, then 2 laps of backstroke in the shallow end. I had never been so tired in my life.
2006 – Age: 12
Ms. Waskul taught me everything.
2007 – Age: 13
My parents got so tired of me after a week of summer that they sent me to camp for an extra 2 weeks! Best summer ever!
2008 – Age: 14
Bradley and I discovered that shoe spray and Axe body spray were highly flammable one day when my parents weren’t home.
2009 – Age: 15
Visited Washington, DC with my friend Amanda. We ate in one of the largest McDonald’s restaurants in the world. I got a double-double and a medium fries. I also got REALLY drunk on Canada Day and for punishment Mom made me shovel gravel with my grandfather the next day.
2010 – Age: 16
My Mom and I went to the local MPI to get my learners driving permit. She then let me idle the car for 10 metres in an empty parking lot before getting spooked and making me return to the passenger seat.
2011 – Age: 17
Bradley burst into Johnees restaurant while I was working at the cash register. He told me that there was good news waiting for me back at the cottage. He refused to tell me what, but by the look on his face I knew: made the Western Canada Games team (that is, after a guy deferred his spot).
2012 – Age: 18 (big year so it gets 2)
No, not grad, not prom, and not going to a bar for the first time. My most prominent memory from 2012 was the day that my parents took a walk around the block without me. Before they left, I was going to the University of Manitoba next year; when they came back, they told me I could go to Dalhousie.
I was sitting in my res room reading my intro to Political Science text book when my friend Nigel opened the door and exclaimed: “WE WON!” I replied, “We won what?” Nigel: “TRYOUTS, WE WON TRYOUTS! WE’RE VARSITY!” … thanks for putting me on the team, Lance. It changed my life.
2013 – Age: 19
My friend Colin and I stayed out all night just so we could give our teammates a good send-off to CIS Championships at 4:45 the following morning. That was the first time I truly understood what it meant to be part of a team.
2014 – Age: 20
Floor wars at the Nuthouse during our double snow day – best week of my year; best year of my life.
2015 – Age: 21
Rachel and Shelby made me birthday cake and we ate it for breakfast this morning.
Well, Mom and Dad, as you can see I’ve had a pretty good run so far. Even though you might be thinking about me today, just know that I am thinking about you and everyone else that has made these past 21 years nothing short of incredible.
Your (not so little) boy,
Jeremy/Jerbear/Jerome/Jeronimo/Bra-jer (when you accidently almost call me Brad)