“With a Smile

Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham   

Yes, I am getting older, as my mind and body are telling me. Later this year, I will be the first of my numerous cousins to cross the threshold of 70!

I have my “senior moments” where I go into a room and forget what I went in there for. My sleep schedule is interrupted at night because I have to get up and pee. My vision is now augmented by bifocals. My conversations with my contemporaries have changed over the years; now they include retirement, grandchildren, the AARP discounts, and our health issues. Growing up, my memory was such that my nickname was Computer; these days, the “computer” needs a backup and an external hard drive. Certain foods I enjoyed eating as a young man I can no longer tolerate now. I can still “bust a move” on the dance floor, but I don’t stay out there all night as I did at 21.

With all that, I remember a quote from a Dhar Mann video: “While you are focused on what you don’t have, there are people who are wishing for what you do have.” Hence, I am taking a page from Ma’s playbook when he reached her 90th birthday, and I will greet 70 “with a smile.” After all, what we give is what we receive.

I am grateful for the gift of writing and my imagination, a craft I am regularly honing. As we speak, another idea for a male/male romance novel is taking shape, and so I have three novels in the queue; I love it.

I am grateful for all the amazing writers/authors I have come in contact with over the years, and the stories they share.

I am grateful for six years as a cancer survivor. Brothas, if you are 40 and older, make sure you get a PSA test periodically for prostate cancer. When my prostate was removed, I was blessed that they got all of the cancer.

I am grateful for the offbeat sense of humor I inherited from my late father, the man who always had my back when I pursued my dream of becoming a novelist. Dad, you are unforgettable.

I am grateful for my health and the medical support system that helps to maintain it.

I am grateful for the 6-year-old laptop that has seen all the novels and articles I wrote on it, patiently waiting for me to upgrade it so it can retire.

I am grateful for my husband’s love of 11 years and my son, a reality that seemed an impossible dream for me as a young brotha of 22.

I am grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me through such individuals as Wyatt O’Brian Evans, Insight News, and the Minnesota Black Authors Expo, to be a voice of support for Black authors and poets. I never dreamed that one day, I would become the role model I wished that I had as a Black SGL man of 18.

I am grateful for the day-to-day blessings of food, a home, clothes, utilities, the Internet, libraries, my car, books to read, and especially the fact that I woke up this morning to see this day. Indeed, I take far less for granted now.

I am grateful for the valuable time I get to spend with my 91-year-old mother, and the love and wisdom she shares. Would you believe we like the same soap operas?

I am grateful for my church family. The very church that I grew up in has now become the inclusive church where I can serve God in full authenticity, and I give thanks for that.

These are but some of the reasons this Old School New Kid will be greeting 70 “with a smile.” And I am grateful for the knowledge that we’re never too old to follow our dreams.

W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.”

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits, and classic movies of old Hollywood. He was also inspired by the late novelists E. Lynn Harris and Toni Morrison, who believed that an author should write the books he/she/they want to read.

W.D. is a book review editor for Insight News, a Black community newspaper in the Twin Cities. His column is titled, “Sharing Our Stories.”

His Christopher Family Novel series can be found on the shelves of 13 public library system collections in Minnesota, the Des Moines Public Library System in Iowa, and the Quatrefoil (LGBT) Library. Current works in development are a continuation of his series: four M/M romance novels, “To Thine Own Self”(a 30-plus couple), “Dare To Dream” (single dad), “Playa No More” (age gap), “Built to Last” (friends to lovers), and “The Rise of Sherry Payson,” a story seasoned with humor, romance, mystery, and a story within.

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.com; on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1; and Facebook. And email W. D. at wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.