By BRADLEY ROBERTSON
Thursday, Nov. 11, was my 41st birthday. Hallelujah! Another year of life has passed and another awaits me on Earth. I believe birthdays to be sincerely the most incredible gift. They are the day we were granted breathe and life and we were set in motion to do amazing things.
I was born at Montgomery Baptist in 1980 to Jane and John Nettles. I was named Bradley after my mother, and my middle name, Jean, came from a hurricane blowing into the Gulf of Mexico; a possible premonition of things to come.
My mother was a schoolteacher and since she was off for the Veterans Day holiday, it seemed fitting for her to show up at the hospital to have a baby; and so, I came into the world at 2:02 p.m., a red-headed baby girl and a wonder of what would come of her.
All these years later, I find myself wondering the same thing, “what is to become of me?” I have no clue, but I know that whatever it may be, I’m ready.
Looking back at my last 41 years, my childhood was a dream. It wasn’t perfect but it was beautiful. I was raised in a sweet country church where every white-headed lady hugged me and loved me. I spent endless hours in a make-believe playroom with my sister and, on occasion, we wandered astray to build Lego cities with our brother.
We spent many summer days on a beach somewhere or tearing into crab meat, covered by abundant laughs with family. My grandmother taught me to “breast my cards” at the young age of 10 and my Papa taught me the simple joy of eating cheese curls.
I ran endlessly around our neighborhood with the best of friends and we rode bikes to the city pool when the summer heat was too much to bear. In the fall, the Auburn game was always on the TV or radio, and if we got lucky, my parents demanded we grab a roll of toilet paper and bussed us to downtown Auburn; rolling the trees after a winning game.
My school life was fun and fabulous, even the awkward early teen years were a delight. My friends were everything, and as long as we were together, even showing up in Mrs. Stith’s 8th-grade science class was fun. Choir was always hysterical and even the day I got pushed up against the wall by a tough girl, I remember laughing till no end.
High School was amazing too. Mr. Brown always kept the school in good spirits and as long as I was really into my outfit for the day, I felt amazing! I learned that running was my sport and if I wanted extra money for the movies or clothes, I better get a job; and dinner was always waiting on me at home.
My “box of chocolates” for life was a true assortment, and I ran on enthusiasm, spontaneous moments, smiles and fashion. Looking back, I haven’t changed a bit. But what I have learned is that my eager spirit of the “unknown” of life helps to keep my joy in place.
I have always been ready for the next best thing, and so in my waiting the next best thing has always appeared just around the corner.
I anticipate good and so good appears. I long for peace and so peace finds its way every time. I aim for love and service and so love and service in abundance make its way to me. I run my race searching for simple joy and so that joy shows itself in the light and dark of any given day.
There is a sweet and simple story I want to offer you as a lesson, a story of Mrs. Betty, one of the brightest lights ever in my life.
I saw Mrs. Betty for the last time on Earth at the hospital. She was grinning from ear to ear, her bright lipstick upon her lips and her white and lovely hair fit perfectly upon her head. She could no longer see, due to the strong medicine she was taking, and she was sitting up, strapped to a bed with seatbelts, preparing to leave for an ambulance ride to Birmingham.
I walked in her room just in time, Shep was a baby, seated in his stroller. I calmly spoke to her, all knowing that she was leaving to go somewhere else.
“Hey Mrs. Betty. It’s Bradley. Are you getting ready to leave?” I asked as I held back tears.
“Yes. I’m ready!” said Mrs. Betty. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m ready! I’m ready!”
Mrs. Betty died just days later, ready for her new life to come.
I may always wonder what I will become, but I won’t ever wonder if I’m ready or not. I know that I am. I know that I’m ready for whatever life tosses to me. I know that I will figure it out as I go along. I know that God will give me all that I need to keep going.
Too often, we want answers and explanations, we want to know what is to come and to always have a plan. But if we are always concerned of the when and how, we can never really enjoy the here and now.
Are you ready friends? Are you ready for today and tomorrow?
I pray you are. I pray you seek the joy around the corner, and I promise that it will come to you.