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What do you want?

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Most of the ideas for this column don’t actually come from me. They come from The Wife. Now to many, it won’t come as a surprise that she’s the intelligent one in the family. And why marry a really smart person and not pay attention to what she has to say?
Anytime The Wife and I are together, not an hour goes by without her saying something that’s thought-provoking or funny. She is, by far, the smartest, kindest and funniest person I’ve ever met.

So when she asked last week what I wanted for my birthday, I thought she was joking. After all, what can you possibly buy someone who already has everything he ever dreamed of and so much more?
But I did wonder: if I could have anything for my birthday, what would it be?
The first thing that came to mind was money. If I were super rich, I wouldn’t have to go to work anymore. Then I’d just lie around the house and do nothing all day. Sounds really boring. I guess asking for money for your birthday present isn’t a good idea after all.

A new car would make the perfect gift. Then again, a new car comes with a lot of worries. It could be days, weeks or even months before that first dent or scratch arrives. Until then, I’d worry myself to death about it. And there are tons of electronic gizmos to try and figure out in a new car.
My old car is five years old, and I still don’t know how to adjust the electric seat memory correctly. Nope, a new car would just be too much of a hassle for a birthday gift.

I could ask for another granddaughter, but Little One’s little sister Little Bit will be here in about six weeks. Then there’ll be two of them. I’ll be out-numbered!
How I’m gonna keep up with both of them I really have no idea. The Wife says my heart will grow to have more room for the new baby. My heart isn’t what I need to grow. I need additional arms, hands, and legs to keep up. Little One is now mobile. She’s just starting to walk. And she’s faster than I am.
This column, like so many of late, was written in the middle of the night while The Wife slept. Sleep eludes me now more often than not. After 27 years as a firefighter and being up all night responding to emergencies, I guess old habits are hard to break. But the night is helpful. Like a warm blanket, it wraps around and is comforting and quiet – giving me time to think.

It was hours later when the alarm finally sounded in the bedroom. I brought The Wife a cup of coffee and something else — an answer to her question.
I kissed her good morning and said, “The only thing I want for my birthday is to spend it, and every hour of every day till forever, with you.”
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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