90 candles on a cake

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2021

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It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Lights still decorate houses, but the Christmas music and the holiday bustle have ended. Presents are piled high in the corner of the unkempt living room, and everyone seems to be in a state of limbo, waiting for one last week to pass before resolving to get their lives together in 2022.

One of my family’s traditions in the final week of the year is to gather at my grandparents’ house on the 27th to celebrate my Paw Paw’s birthday. Well, my grandmother passed away in 2020, less than a year before Hurricane Ida brought water into their now-gutted home. This year, we celebrated Paw Paw’s birthday at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, where he has resided since September.

This week, Dominick Joseph Cuti turned 90 years old! New Year’s is a time to look ahead, but for a moment, let’s look into the past.

Here are some facts I’ve gathered courtesy of you.regettingold.com: As of today, my Paw Paw is 32,875 days old. He’s had a total of 4,095 candles on his birthday cake. His heart has beat more than 3 billion times, and he’s taken almost 7 million breaths. The moon has made 1,204 trips around the Earth since he was born in 1931. There were only 2.1 billion people alive when he made his grand entrance. The world’s population has since exploded to 7.79 billion.

I hope I’m lucky enough to see 90 candles on my birthday cake. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a reporter, it’s that we aren’t guaranteed a single day on this Earth. Wrinkles and gray hair are a blessing when so many lives in the River Parishes have been cut short by devastating illnesses and fatal car crashes.

Was 2021 a good year? Devastation from Hurricane Ida will surely leave a negative mark on how this year is remembered. It wasn’t an easy year for my Paw Paw, but we still gathered around a cake to celebrate another year of his life.

We have a long road ahead of us to rebuild our community, heal local businesses and replenish the loss of learning that caused our school performance scores to drop. All of that will happen in time, just as it has after every major disaster.

Whether you are in your home or huddled with family in a tiny camper, let’s remember that being alive and having a chance to ring in 2022 is worth celebrating!


Brooke R. Cantrelle is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.