I would most heartily like to welcome you to the joyous family of man.

I’ve been celebrating my birthday since last week. Family and friends have made May more of a birthMONTH than a birthDAY by giving me beautiful flowers, sending me presents, and singing to me on the telephone. It’s always nice to feel loved and appreciated, but especially on the day that marks your entry into the world.

The best gift, though, is a letter my mother sent to me. It is not a letter she wrote, but a letter she has been saving, a letter written by a student of hers on the occasion of my birth. This letter was written to me -- not yet a month old -- by a young man of 14. It reads:

“I would most heartily like to welcome you to the joyous family of man. No doubt your passage was an arduous one and you are now tired. It is doubtful that there will be much occasion for rest after your preliminary initiations; but, nevertheless, I hope your sojourn will be a long and pleasant one. It is to be expected that dilemmas -- and even crises -- will arise very soon: being independent -- even in the least degree -- is a rather traumatic burden. Nevertheless, however, I would expect that you will bear up well in your newfound home. And please, I would caution you, if you happen to encounter men of mean motives as you learn and grow in the fertile years ahead, understand that to some men goodness is only skin deep or a sticky film to be washed off at the nearest rain. But then I mustn’t fill your head with apprehensions, and in order to not do so I will once again welcome you to the new world and say goodbye for the present.”

I have never not felt welcomed into the family of man, and in fact, I celebrate it most days, not just on my birthday. So, thank you André, wherever you might be. Mille mercis!