“Happy Birthday Dear Itzik Happy Birthday To Me. “
Yup! This time it’s my birthday-my 49th – and I sure have a lot to celebrate. You see, I’m a professional clown. I perform at birthday parties and all sorts of events. I’m a happy person, and I thank G-d for whatever I’ve got — for my terrific family, my many friends, for the my special profession – bringing a smile to the faces of children –some who have very little to smile about.
And most important, I’m grateful that I and my family are healthy. In my profession, I see a lot of people who are not. About three weeks ago, I completed 21 years of volunteering as a clown for sick kids. When you frequent hospitals for so many years and meet children and families in the toughest situations, you learn to appreciate life and be happy with what you have in the world.
Like Danielle. Danielle just turned eleven. I tried to make her birthday a happy one. I did my best. I really did. But with all my jokes and antics, I couldn’t create health.
Her mother has been sick with cancer for about 3 years. Danielle, a real heroine, has matured way beyond her years and, instead of a child in need of strengthening during this most difficult time, she has become the family mainstay, giving encouragement to all her family members throughout her mother’s recovery process. Danielle would recharge her own batteries at Ezer Mizion. Its Cancer Support Division is staffed by warm, caring professionals. They provide therapy and a shoulder to cry on for patients and their families who find themselves imprisoned in a nightmare too horrific to contemplate.
Of course, the party was held at Ezer Mizion. Where else?
Ezer Mizion contributed the place, the food and the birthday cake, with a lot of the staff coming as guests to add their good cheer. I volunteered to provide the entertainment, with a magic show and a telepathy demonstration. The tremendous joy of Danielle and her family injected us with new energy to keep on giving.
Inside my colorful, grinning clown costume, I prayed. I prayed for Danielle’s mother and her whole family. I prayed for all the other sick people who have smiled-some for the first time in days- when I go through my act. And I prayed that I would have the strength for many more years to bring joy to those whose every day is colored black by a cloud of despair.
Soon it will be my party. I’m going to invite all my friends, and there will be magicians and clowns and balloons. I’ll get lots of presents but the best one will be another year of health to continue making people smile. I sure hope I get that gift.
I also want to give you a very important message: Even when things are hard and you trip and fall-like I often do in my oversized clown shoes-, get up on your feet and keep going. Because when you look around, you will see that there are people whose problems are a lot bigger than yours. In spite of the difficulty, try to be happy, appreciate what you have and smile.
So happy birthday to everyone out there who has a bit of sadness in his life and a very happy birthday to me…
Itzik, the Clown
For further info: www.ezermizion.org