December 27th of 2018 was one of the most humbling days of my life. For a year my wife had secretly been planning and implementing a surprise birthday party for me. I’m not real big on being surprised, I am much better at being the “surpriser”. I like to think of myself as fairly observant and not easily tricked. Plus, I have grandchildren that are very good about sharing all that they know or have heard. In other words, there are not many surprises in the Martin household.

The birthday plans were to go to our oldest daughter’s house for grilled steaks and vegetable sides. My son-in-law can season and grill amazing steaks; so, who cares about the veggies! Shortly before we left a pickup that I did not recognize pulled into our driveway. Since I was several hundred yards away, I headed back to investigate.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – my son and grandson from Texas got out of the pickup. I couldn’t believe they flew into Jacksonville and drove up for my birthday!! When we hugged, a December gnat flew into my eye and caused me to tear up. It had nothing to do with my son coming 800 miles to celebrate my 70th birthday!

My son, Matt, drove me to my birthday cookout at his sister’s house. We had a great visit and laughed a lot. When we arrived, my awesome wife, Patti, was there to escort me into dinner. It did cross my mind that one of my family members might have procured a wheel chair for me, alas, it was not to be; instead, there were 30 or so of my most precious friends that I had come to know and love over the last 38 years living in Georgia. Wham!!!! Another December gnat right in the eye! My awesome wife softly spoke in my ear, “That’s not all. We have one more guest.” Around the corner came my only brother! At that exact moment a squadron of December gnats flew into my eyes as I hugged my brother. It must have been a large swarm as they got in my brother’s eyes too!

I was completely humbled that all of these friends and family members had given up their time to celebrate 70 years of my life with me. My wife cared enough for me to orchestrate this whole party. My WHOLE family pitched in. I AM TRULY A BLESSED MAN.
Nuts! Here comes another gnat!

3 John 2

Jay and Patti Martin