Read Time5 Minute, 30 Second
On January 8th, seventy years ago, at precisely 10:30 in the morning, a scream of joy erupted from my tiny mouth as I gasped my first breath of life.
I don’t know if I was a planned addition to the St. Andrews clan or not, but I always felt loved by my mom.
My dad was different; his family never showed their emotions.
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I attended a lot of friends’ birthday parties but never had one of my own.
Oh, my family would always celebrate each of our birthdays with a birthday cake, baked by our dear Ma, and her baking and cooking were legendary.
But I never complained about not having a birthday party, because my mom was busy trying to raise six children with a household budget stretched to the limit.
Ma did everything she could to make our birthdays special, and her cakes were b with love. She loved each of us kids!
Ma would wait until everyone had finished dinner, and then she would use my dad’s lighter to light the candles on the cake.
Then Ma would hold the lighted cake up for everyone to see, as my dad turned off the ceiling light.
And then everyone would sing happy birthday.
At the end of the song, Ma would place the cake directly in front of you and tell you to close your eyes and make a wish.
But she always warned us to keep our ‘wish’ a secret, or else it would never come true.
Mom was superstitious but mostly kept those thoughts to herself.
Her mom – my Grandma Puffer – was ultra-superstitious.
I guess the apple does fall close to the tree.
But I have never considered myself superstitious – although I never walk under ladders.
Both my Ma and Grandma Puffer were religious, though.
My two older sisters, my brother, and I used to go to Sunday School every Sunday morning.
And every Sunday evening, the four of us sang in the choir at the church service.
We went to Christ Church (Anglican) on Mary Street in Oshawa, Ontario.
My mom would be sitting alone in the church during the evening service.
Dad only went to church if it was a wedding or funeral.
But while I was sitting in the choir, I would often watch my Ma as she sat there by herself.
And sometimes, I would notice her crying.
She wasn’t sobbing or crying loud enough for anyone to notice.
I remember asking her why she cried at church, but she wouldn’t tell me.
So, she probably had secrets. Who doesn’t?
At the time, Ma was probably in her early thirties.
My parents had a loving relationship, and I don’t remember them ever fighting or arguing.
So, I’m not sure what was on Ma’s mind that made her cry at church.
But as I’ve often noted – we all have three types of secrets, namely: the ones we only tell family and friends; the ones we only tell our most trusted friends or family members; and the ones we keep to ourselves and carry to the grave with us.
My earliest photo
Top:Linda, Terry, Sandra, Me, Patsy, Leslie, Jack, & Freddy
At North Simcoe School with brother Freddy
My first bike (used)
High School 1967-68
Christmas at parents' place in Georgetown
Danny & Annette 1978-2016
Danny, Annette, Alice, and Peter
At the cottage in Parry Sound, Ontario
With brother Freddy at niece's baptism
Cousin Donna during a visit at my parent's place in Georgetown (1972)
With cousin Patty in Calgary (1974)
Jesse James (1977-1986)
Dad's older sister at a family gathering in Pentiction in 1988.
On a sail to Vancouver Island (1988)
Our boat was a 26 ft. San Juan and I shared ownership with two friends
With older sister Leslie (1989)
Dad loved steering the sailboat on English Bay during a visit (1988)
Coffee with best friend Court Brooker in Langley (2008)
Cousin Alan at mom's place in Oshawa (2002)
Holly Golightly - she's a Coton de Tulear at 4 mos. (2008)
Hiding behind Danny in 2008
Getting zapped by radiation - 2 times at 7 spots around my throat area
I wore this during 37 daily treatments - I still have the mask
Reunion with Anethea, a radiation therapist who gave me the daily treatments
With Holly after cancer treatments ended (Nov 2009)
Mom's 85th birthday - she passed two years later.
Santa Danny at Santa Claus get together in 2012
Santa Danny's first appearance at Chemotherapy Room (December 2012)
At the inaugural Vancouver Web Festival (2014)
At Oral Dentistry on 65th birthday
As a mobster in the film Dead Simple (2015)
With Pat & Harinder walking (May 2015)
Keynote speaker at cancer fundraiser (2015 & 2016)
With singer Amanda Wood at a cancer fundraiser (2015)
Visiting the home where I was born and raised in Oshawa (2015)
An old haunt in Oshawa
At Qualicum Beach (August 2015)
Reunion with Vicky the radiation therapist (my 40% survival story)
Cancer Fundraiser walk (2015)
With Lui Pasaglia
Dancing with Marie - street vendor in Montreal - bought 2 of her hand made bracelets (October 2015)
Santa Danny with Bob & Ferret Bueller at Urban Safari Rescue Society (November 2015)
At oral dentistry department of cancer centre
Santa Danny at North Shore Neighborhood House with Sue Hunt
Visiting schools to teach children the value of giving
Dental professionals at cancer centre
Keynote speaker at UBC Dentistry Research Day (2016)
Volunteering at the cancer center where I was treated
A selfie - my first
Mom and Dad's place in Oshawa, Ontario
Maurice, Gerry and Allan (Spanky) at a reunion
Gal pal Connie on Mother's Day 2018
She passed on September 13, 2019
Connie's son Ralph who lives in Edmonton (my adopted brother)
Verni, Connie and Brenda at Ambleside in 2018
Care Dog Findley RIP
At Kevin Clark Studios
Kevin's wife Tricia does hair and makeup (she's beautiful but shy)
I get new ones every two years, the latest without a mustache
Kevin's done all of my headshots since 2007
With Mouna, my gorgeous dentist
Watcom Falls, Washington
NW Tulip Trekkers
Tony 'n Tina's Wedding Show - I was Tony Nunzio Sr.
Tony 'n Tina's Wedding Show
Tom, Danny & Norm (oldest teenagers) at a Holly Tree
Margaret added beauty to the walk
Phillip, Rita, Agnes, and Lawrence at Expo torches
White Rock Pier is always a thrill to walk
And the Promenade in White Rock is the icing on the cake!
On my eleventh anniversary from cancer treatments
These Radiation Therapists save lives every day!
Hard not to fall in love with them...
A dear friend with a million dollar smile
It is always nice to visit the same room where I had my treatments
One of my first gigs after the cancer treatments
Last Chance Casting movie - my first movie role after cancer
Rosie, a live tarantula, during a break in filming of Last Chance Casting movie
Suzette was one of the producers of the movie
The cast of the movie Last Chance Casting - it's now a web series
Suzette and Brad were great to work with and so were my fellow cast members.
With Suzette who is the founder of the Vancouver Web Festival
Another bird to love at the Vancouver Web Festival (2015)
This is my worldwide ranking on the IMDb site
Love walking at Garry Point in Richmond
Four-legged Oreo Cookies at Garry Point Park
Actually, they're Dutch Belted cows (from the Netherlands)
August 10, 2020 - sunbathing nude for first time at Wreck Beach
Sunbathers enjoying the sun - photo by Pete
A sunset at Wreck Beach - photo by Pete
Sannie and me on the Sunshine Coast (Sept 19, 2020)
Breakfast on the ferry on our way to Langdale
Drinking my nutrition shake for breakfast
Happy to be in Gibson's Landing - the first attraction...
was the Holy Crap Cereal factory
Beautiful smile - beautiful heart!
Love walking on piers
My nickname for Sannie is 'sweetheart' - the name suits her
Sannie's nickname for me is Grandpa - the name suits me
In Roberts Creek - stunning rock formations
Not sure what the name of this plant is but its leaf is larger than Sannie
Famous site of the Beachcombers television show ('60s)
Filming a tv commercial
Camden & Danny
October 17, 2020
Mom & Dad's place in Oshawa, Ontario
November 2, 2020 walk
at the Promenade
at the train station
in White Rock, BC
November 5, 2020 walk
in Spanish Banks...
doesn't it look like a chair?
... it's why I walk
Got this in 1966
December 10, 2020, I decided
to get a name put on it...
Mike, the artist
makeover of the tattoo
with this tribute to my dog Holly
My new digs in White Rock
1 1/2 blocks from beach
Enter from side of house
to the rear entrance
of my garden suite
Nice private yard...
perfect for lazing...
A covered area, too!
Living room area
Nice bright rooms
Two full bathrooms
Laundry in the suite
I am going to share a couple of secrets with you today, on my birthday.
They are not earth-shattering secrets, and I may have shared some of them with you already. Here they are:
- I dislike onions, green peppers, olives, seafood, and especially pork ‘n beans. None of these should even be a part of the food chain.
- I dislike the color green.
- I dislike opera.
- I dislike lineups – for anything.
- My favorite number is 3
- I love to give gifts, but I feel uncomfortable receiving them.
- I have only loved four women in my life, and two of them were my Ma and Grandma Puffer. I loved them unconditionally, all my life. Sadly, they’re no longer alive.
- I hate saying goodbye to a best friend
- My first love married a wealthy chap – whose birthday is also January 8th, although he is a few years older than me. What are the odds of that happening?
Although I’ve never had a birthday party, I will be celebrating this birthday at my dentist’s office.
Mouna, Debbie, and all of the staff at Croydon Dental are like family to me.
I enjoy flirting with all of them and watching their eyes light up when I arrive with a tub of ginger snap cookies from Trader Joe’s.
If you’ve never tasted these cookies – beware! They’re addictive.
I’ve never tried them, but everyone tells me they’re awesome.
Mouna and a shy Debbie (2018)
Mouna, my special angel
My second family
Mouna and me (Jan 8, 2020)
My 70th Birthday
I’m bringing each of them a tub of cookies.
Santa Danny teaches children the importance of ‘giving’ instead of ‘receiving’ material things.
He also encourages that giving should be all-year-long – not just at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions.
Giving will make your heart feel warm, and that’s a good thing.
In closing, I’m now seventy years young.
I don’t feel old, and I hope to live until I’m 103 years old.
And I plan to celebrate all of my future birthdays at my dentist’s office.
As for my birthday wish – I no longer make one.
My last was when I got diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
Dedicated to Dr. Mouna Hachichou and Debbie McDonald
Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):
If I Can Dream – lyrics
There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue
If I can dream of a better land
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true, oh why
There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds of promise that will blow away
The doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why, oh why, oh why won’t that sun appear?
We’re lost in a cloud
With too much rain
We’re trapped in a world
That’s troubled with pain
But as long as a man
Has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly
Deep in my heart there’s a trembling question
Still I am sure that the answers
Answers gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark
There’s a beckoning candle, yeah
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream
Oh, please let my dream
Come true, oh
Let it come true right now
Songwriters: Walter Earl Brown
Produced by: Mac Davis