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AUSTIN EDITION COL Today, I'm 38 #x2026;; and thankful to still be sucking air

Happy birthday to me!

There's a good chance you're reading this on my 38th birthday, which this year is Saturday, April 23.

Thank you, thank you. I'm here every Saturday. Try the asparagus.

Yesterday was my turn to take treats to share at work. I must confess, the allure of the asparagus was almost too much to control, but I managed, wisely opting for the sweets in order to maintain peaceful relations with my co-workers.

You may have noticed that as I was shamelessly proclaiming my birthday, I didn't say, "I'm 29 again," or something equally as clever in a sad effort to somehow fool others and myself into believing I'm not as old as I am.

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My rapidly graying hair would give me away anyway. I'm told it looks "distinguished," whatever that means. Hey, it can be chartreuse as long as distinguished means it's still growing from the follicles in my head.

At any rate, I say it's my 38th birthday because it is my 38th birthday. I'm not living in age denial. I don't have any reservations about telling you my age, because I'm not ashamed or afraid of it as some people are or pretend to be.

I'd be lying if I said that when I turned 30 there wasn't a trace of apprehension, but now that I'm closing in on my fifth decade of existence and have my own family, I have come to accept that there's no stopping the clock.

It keeps relentlessly ticking away, and even though trying to stop it has become a multi-zillion-dollar industry, it's a pointless endeavor.

Today is my 38th birthday, and I'm proud, too; proud to have made it this far. I'm proud because there are a lot of people who don't make it this far. I said good-bye to two of them this week.

On Thursday in Northfield, there was a funeral for my 23-year-old cousin B.J., who was born with heart problems and was never expected to walk or talk. Not only did B.J. walk and talk, he graduated from high school and touched people in ways most of us can't conceive.

Jaime Hallum, an acquaintance of mine about whom I wrote several months back and who himself touched a great many people, also died this week. He lost a seven-month battle with cancer at the age of 39.

Unfortunately, some of us pass before our time, which is why I don't have time for people whining about getting older. We should be happy to still be sucking air, for crying out loud.

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We should be proud of our age instead of tiptoeing around it and getting offended when someone has the audacity to ask how old we are.

Birthdays are another time to stop, take a look around at what we have, and be thankful. Smell those roses, and embrace each birthday as if it will be your last.

This year, while embracing my birthday, I'll also be embracing the memory of two special people who had their last birthdays long before they should have.

Jeff Reinartz is a freelance writer who lives in Austin with his family.

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