My Brother’s Birthday Party Reminded Me of the Importance of Having Fun

Columnist Charlton Harris decides to ditch the excuses and live his life

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by Charlton Harris |

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Last week, my older brother celebrated his 60th birthday. Wow, 60!

My brother and I are two years apart and have a very close relationship. My mother was a single parent and it was always the three of us, so we had no choice in liking each other. He had to tolerate me. Growing up, we had our differences, like all siblings, but over the years, those differences strengthened our friendship.

My brother had planned a birthday party and relied on me to help with the menu and the music. He knows I don’t get out much due to the effects of pulmonary sarcoidosis, but he wanted me to be at his party. I had mixed emotions about attending, but soon realized I probably needed the fun more than he did.

My brother and I lost our mother at 64, which weighed heavily on us over the years. Our birthdays are bittersweet now that she’s no longer here to clown us. I didn’t think I would reach this age, given my sarcoidosis and two spontaneous pneumothoraces, but here I am.

My brother wasn’t thinking about the past like I was. He was ready to move forward and party! Maybe I should take a page from his book.

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I Won’t Let Sarcoidosis Interrupt My Life

Breaking out of my comfort zone

Over the past five years, unbeknownst to me, I’ve allowed the effects of pulmonary sarcoidosis to make me feel inadequate. I have a closet full of stylish dress clothes, yet I wear sweat pants all day, every day. Between my attire, the couch, and the television, my comfort zone has become my hiding place.

Honestly, I felt ashamed about my new normal. Guilt was trying to keep me sidelined.

My wife and kids were excited about the party and tried to get me into the groove. A few days before, my brother told me some friends were coming in from out of town. One of his college friends, whom I hadn’t seen in over 35 years, was coming to Philadelphia from Miami. Another friend I hadn’t seen in over 30 years was also coming from North Carolina.

Last month, a group of them went to Panama to celebrate a 60th birthday. My brother told me they had a ball, just like they were college students again. I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on something. Maybe I needed to give myself permission to enjoy life again.

I thought to myself, “I’m stable and my condition hasn’t progressed. Therefore, I should be having fun like the old times.”

The party reveals an important lesson

On the day of the party, I decided I would reintroduce myself, health issues and all. No matter the challenge or obstacle, you have to keep moving.

That day, I pampered myself with a clay facial, groomed my beard, and picked out a cool outfit. Everyone attending the party knew about my health challenges, but there was no way I’d let my appearance reflect what I’ve been through. My looks haven’t mattered to me as much these past few years. It’s time for that to change.

We arrived at the party and everyone was happy to see my brother and me. They’ve always known that we’re a pair. Some folks even complimented my wife and me on how well we’ve aged over the years. It was truly an uplifting feeling.

Despite my initial apprehension, the party was just what I needed. We laughed, danced, ate, took pictures, drank, reminisced about the way we “used to be,” and discussed the challenges we’re all living with now.

That night, I learned I wasn’t alone in dealing with health issues. If you live long enough, you’ll experience the effects of aging. Everyone appreciated that they were aging well and still having fun and living life — canes and portable oxygen included!

I called my brother the next day and thanked him for hosting a fantastic party. He told me that everyone had a good time and that he was happy I didn’t try to make any excuses to avoid attending. I learned a long time ago that excuses are tools of the incompetent. No more excuses for me — it’s time to have some fun, just like the old times.

Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


Unkle Woodchuck avatar

Unkle Woodchuck

Always good to "hear" from you. Just one comment, though: How could I not know you have an older brother?

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Hahahahaha Unkle Woodchuck!
We're like Michael Jackson and Diana Ross-you rarely see us together at the same time!

Michelle Wadelington avatar

Michelle Wadelington

Hi. I too have Pulmonary Sarcoidosis plus other autoimmune diseases, I also turned 60 this past July on the 13th I just went out to eat with my two sisters then that Friday one of my nephews took me out to a great crab place. I enjoyed both outings but was ready to get back home i'm on oxygen 24/7 so I just don't like the fact that I can't really do what I want to do, so I mostly stay at home in sweats and a t-shirt watching tv or face timing my only grandbaby. I glad you went to the party and were able to see some old friends plus have a great time.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thanks for reading and commenting, Michelle. I've been making it a point lately, to get out of the house more often than I feel like. Suprisingly, my short trips to the gym and library have been making a difference. There's only so much television you can watch without becoming a product of the nonsense you're viewing.
Please keep reading and please continue to get out and enjoy yourself. The benefit will be yours to share!

Louise Wyllie avatar

Louise Wyllie

Great story and as my gran would never get mer than you can handle!!!! She was a wise woman.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thanks for reading, Louise. Youre Gram was ABSOLUTELY correct. You'll be surprised by what you can handle. Everyday is a new adventure!


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