50 Years: A Birthday Story

So I haven’t blogged for a long time.  Because birthdays.  Most specifically, this year was my husband’s 50th birthday, which he had been anticipating for some time.  We had a special party, and I thought I would share some pictures of the big event.

We had a great turnout–about 100 people–and even the staff at Deadbeat Pete’s said it was the best party they had ever attended!

Instead of using a traditional guest book, I created a questionnaire for the guests to fill out and enlisted the help of DJ John Rutherford (who was amazing) to make sure everyone remembered.  I’m going to gather them up into a binder along with all the cards John received.  I know he will enjoy reading them over again and again.

guest book page

I also created a hashtag for the event and printed up cards to put on all the tables.  This was not as successful as I don’t think a lot of people who came are as active on social media as I am.  🙂  However, many people did upload their pictures to the Facebook Event page!



I used Canva to create both of those, as well as the invitation, which we disseminated with a Facebook Event page, an Evite, and even by hand. 🙂

You're Invited

To make sure that people didn’t forget our upcoming event, I posted several pictures each day of John from birth up to the present, which he said made him feel very loved!  The one below might be my favorite:


John said this one of him and Emily (who shares his birthday and turned 25 this year) was his:

john emmy baby smile

Besides food and drink and cake and dancing, of course a milestone birthday demands toasts.   To finish this post, I want to share with you what I said about John.  It was a pleasure and an honor to get to stand up in front of everyone to sing his praises.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone on John’s behalf for coming to help him celebrate tonight.  It means a lot to him that so many people turned up for this milestone.

John was 19 when I met him—he was delivering mail at our dorm, and my roommate, who was in the same French class, introduced us.  For an entire year, we called him John Paul, because that was what he was going by in French class and we thought it was his real name!  I wrote about meeting him in my diary, saying that he was “a very funny guy.”

John didn’t wear suits every day back then, but he was certainly more dressed up than almost everyone else, and we formed the opinion that he came from a well-to-do family.  We never would have guessed that his father had been a steel-mill worker and that his mother was a waitress, and that he was the first person in his family to attend college.

As we got to know John, he shared with us that his father had died when he was 18.  By the time he spoke of this, it had been about two years since it happened, which seemed like a long time back then.  But of course it wasn’t very long at all, and he was still reeling from the effects of that loss.  His dad was 49, and that’s why reaching this 50th birthday has always been a big deal to John.

Anyone who knows John can tell he is a natural leader.  He has held numerous leadership positions starting in high school.  When I met him, his plan for his life included joining the Foreign Service, living a bachelor lifestyle until the age of 30 or so, running for political office, and never having any kids!

Like most of us, John’s life took a different path from the one he envisioned back then.  Instead of being in the public eye, his choices have led him to be instead an unsung hero, someone whose life is centered around faith, family, and making the world a better place.  The kind of hero who uses his many talents to help the less fortunate, whose job representing indigent parents and neglected children is more vocation than career, who always puts his family ahead of his work, who worries more about helping his clients than getting them to pay their legal fees.

John is generous to a fault.  Everyone in this room knows that they can count on John to do anything asked of him, even when it’s personally inconvenient.  He is the kind of friend that anyone would like to have.   

Today it’s time for us to sing songs about the unsung hero, or at least to toast him.   So let’s raise our glasses and I will finish this with an Irish Toast:  “I have known many, and liked not a few, but loved only one and this toast is to you.”

Jake, our oldest son, toasting his dad.


Teddy, the middle son (and middle child), adding some humor to his toast

#LoveYourLawyerDay: Why I Love My Lawyer (and It’s Not Just Because I Am Married to Him)

So today is Love Your Lawyer Day, which you can read about here.

Y’all, this is not a joke.  Now, we are not a hyper-sensitive bunch here, and we can laugh at a good lawyer joke now and again, but the constant vilification of the members of the legal profession can get a little tiresome.

Especially if you know MY lawyer.

Law School Graduation edited

My lawyer works hard for his clients every day.  Even though he is appointed to represent many of them by the State of Tennessee, which means they are not the ones paying him.  Even though the aforementioned State of Tennessee has not seen fit to give appointed attorneys a raise in 20 years.  Even though attorneys who represent the poor in Tennessee are among the lowest paid in the entire United States.

But if you are a poor person being represented by MY lawyer, you would never know that.  Even when he has reached the cap for your case, or the cap for the calendar year, and is working for FREE.  He will keep working, and he will keep looking out for your interests, and he will give your case the same attention he gives to that of his paying clients.

My lawyer treats his clients with respect and dignity.  Most seasoned attorneys do very little indigent defense work because it is not profitable.  My lawyer is proud to be able to provide his indigent clients with the benefit of his over twenty years of experience.  He stands up for them against a system that is often unfair to them just because they are poor.

My lawyer cares deeply about the neglected kids he represents as Guardian ad Litem.  He visits their homes and takes the time to form a relationship with them.  He talks to teachers and counselors if necessary.  He takes very seriously his job of determining what is in their best interests.

My lawyer worries about the fate of his juvenile clients.  He knows that they are just kids, and that kids do stupid things.  He knows that many of them have had the deck stacked against them from the start.

My lawyer always sends out his bills late because he is too busy taking care of his clients to take the time to review and initial them.  He is not in this for the money (though luckily for our family I am the administrator of this office and I am not as altruistic as he is).  He is always lowering his rates, giving people deals, cutting their bills, offering payment plans, forgetting to record all his time, doing things for free.

My lawyer answers his phone at night and on weekends, even if he is trying to rest, unless I turn the ringer off.

My lawyer doesn’t have a fancy office downtown.  He works at home so that he can spend more time with his family.  Even though he ALWAYS has work to do, he makes time to come to every school function, meeting, or conference.

My lawyer looks like a lawyer.  Seriously, he gets stopped on the street and asked if he is a lawyer! He wears suits every day, which he likes to accessorize with seasonal ties and socks.

My lawyer is a good lawyer, even though he doesn’t always think so.  His hard work pays off and he gets good results for his clients.  People who have legal troubles are not happy, and they aren’t legal professionals, so often they are not as appreciative as they should be.  They don’t always pay their bills, even when they are very satisfied.  But he keeps right on doing his best for them.

My lawyer is my husband and my best friend.  He is a good lawyer and a good man, and he deserves a day like this.

If you have your own lawyer, show him or her a little love today.  And if you don’t, I can recommend a great one.

John with Cat