“The Road Trip of Life,” column for Feb. 11, 2014

“The Road Trip of Life,” column for Feb. 11, 2014

Friday was my husband’s birthday. We spent it in the car. Not all of it, just four hours.

He was driving. I was writing. It worked pretty well. We had an unpoken agreement. He didn’t tell me how to write. And I tried not to tell him how to drive.

We left our home in Las Vegas around mid-afternoon, to drive to Phoenix for the weekend, to celebrate his birthday and see the Warriors play the Suns.

My husband is a lucky man. He knows it, but I like to remind him. Not only has he lived to see another birthday _ not everyone gets to do that, you know _ but he married a woman who likes basketball and doesn’t balk at driving 300 miles to see a game.

The day got off to a great start with birthday cards and phone calls and a video from our 3-year-old grandson singing “Happy bir’day, Papa Mark!” backed up by his baby brother, chiming in on “to you!”

In the car, his cell phone kept ringing with birthday greetings from family and friends. He put them all on speaker phone so he could drive hands free and I could listen in, even though it wasn’t my birthday.

We by-passed Hoover Dam, drove on through Kingman, and headed out across the open desert just in time for sunset.

The western sky colored up slowly, painting feather-like clouds in the singular shades of neon pinks and purples and lavenders and grays that I’ve come to love in desert sunsets.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

Just past Wikieup _ a town that’s even smaller than the one I grew up in _ my husband pulled over to take a picture. He’s like that. A sucker for sunsets. I like that about him.

I wanted to take a picture of him taking the picture, but I couldn’t get my phone/camera out of my purse before he got back in the car. I’m like that. Slow. He likes that about me.

Back on the road, the sunset gradually faded to black, the shadows grew long and the desert disappeared, bedding down under a blanket of night.

Oncoming headlights sliced the dark like lasers and stabbed at our eyes. The rough road got rougher, rattling our teeth. My bad knee kept begging for a break, and dinner was still miles away. I dug into the snack bag one last time and fished out a limp stick of celery. It had seemed like such a good idea when I packed it.

Meanwhile, on the CD player, the Reverend Al Green began to sing, “Love and Happiness,” and we had to laugh. A little good music makes a bad road better.

An hour later, we checked into the hotel (they left a light on for us), got dinner and sat out on a roof top feeling glad to be alive.

We had a great weekend. Ate too much, slept too little and the Warriors, well, they lost. But still, it was all worth the drive.

Isn’t it always?

On the way home, I started thinking about birthdays. In our family, we celebrate four in January, four in February, and all the others throughout the year. Mine is next week. I’m not sure how we’ll celebrate it. Possibly not with a four-hour drive to a basketball game.

If I’m lucky, like my husband, I’ll get cards and calls and maybe a few videos. I don’t need presents any more. When you’ve seen as many birthdays as I’ve seen, the only gift you truly want is getting to see one more.

Birthdays are the mile markers on the road of life. They tell us how far we’ve come, but not how far we’ve yet to go.

Life is a journey more than a destination. The road is harder for some than it is for others, but we all reach the end of it sooner or later. What matters is who we choose as traveling companions, and how often we just sit back and enjoy the ride.

It also helps to pack good snacks.

Here’s wishing you a happy birthday, whenever it may be. No need to send me a birthday card. Unless you really want to.


  1. sydney love says

    Happy Birthday to you and your husband. I never tire of reading what you write. It is all lovely. I just had a birthday last week, the first week of March. I am a little behind in reading your articles but I have a son with a wonderful winter February birthday. I remember something you said years ago and I say it to all my children on their birthday. I borrowed it from you and it hits deep in my heart. They are all grown but I hope someday they look back and remember this saying and my saying it to them. I tell them “I am glad that you were born”. You know what Sharon , I am glad that you were born too because the Lord has used you to help brighten lots of my days and give me wonderful ideas that I never would have thought of. Please keep writing because I love every word that you write. It is beautiful! Happy Birthday!

  2. Helen Blankenship says

    I don’t miss reading your stories in the Sunday edition of our hometown newspaper The Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Alabama). Is this the sunset your huband took a picture of?
    Beautiful photo. Hope you have a happy birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday to my Esse Quam Vidiri friend. Hugs and love, Joyous PS…. Steven Colbert has on part of his tv studio set a fake fireplace and carved on it is Vidiri Quam Esse. I always laugh and wonder if you have seen it.

  4. Steve Garson says

    I love the way you described the trip with your hubby, the little precious details, maybe even mundane, are the best. And that is what makes those times with another one special so memorable. Takes a good writer to say what we really experience. Thanks for sharing and the best to you on your b-day. My reply after reading your article in Fairfield, CA

  5. Just read your Birthday Journey article in the Naples Daily News, it was wonderful!!
    Happy Birthday to you and your husband!

  6. Happy Birthday, Sharon! (You already know how I feel about them.)

    As you always say, Grace and peace,

    Bruce & Neva

  7. Kathy Merritt Herrington says

    A Happy Birthday to you! A Happy Birthday to you! Everyday of the year may you find Jesus near….A Happy Birthday to you! A Happy Birthday to you! May this be the best year you have ever had…
    My Mama always sang this song on our birthday. Now my sisters and I sing it to our family and friends in their Birthdays.

  8. I can relate to February birthdays, as I have Mom, 2 sisters, 2 grand-kids, 2 nephews, 1 son and myself all born in February! A little bit of sunshine in a winter month! I have this saying on my work wall: Do not regret growing older, it is privileged denied to many. Thank you again for your words….Happy Birth Day to you!

  9. How fortunate we are to have our lives intersect with yours on life’s journey. I appreciate how your words externalize how we experience our own moments of joy and gratitude. I feel part of an even more extended family! Blessings on you and Mark as you enjoy this delightful life!

  10. Kate Sciacca says

    A blessed and happy birthday to you! We have four in Feb and four in September ( I chalk that up to cold winter months). Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents with us 🙂

  11. Doug Kelley says

    Your voice, Sharon. I love your voice. The one we hear when we read your columns. And it came through so crystal clear this week. You say you wish we could have seen it. Today, we did. No camera required.


  12. Happy 29th

  13. Have a great birthday,Sharon…mine’s the following week..I do celebrate being alive at 85 and still doing Zumba!!!

  14. How could one not wish you the very brightest of birthdays after reading your post today and one day after receiving Lynn’s Valentine/Christmas card with the picture of Whitney’s beautiful wedding party and a sweet note from Lynne. Mark, may you have many, many more happy birthdays spent with your lovely bride.

  15. Garnett Zamboni says

    Wishing you a day full of love and happiness. Birthdays are the sweet reminders that we are not about aging but living each day to the fullest. Thank you for sharing your stories with us so we all live each day to the fullest. May your cup be filled with gladness. Happy Birthday! Garnett Zamboni Salina, KS

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