Back in February 1984, Tammy Elrod's baby was due on Valentine's Day. But little Joshua was too shy for a flashy debut, so he held on until the end of the month.
Tammy and her husband Rick, of Ringgold, arrived at what was then East Ridge Hospital on the snowy night of Feb. 28, 1984, and Joshua was born at precisely 2:44 a.m. Feb. 29.
"We were blessed with a Leap Year baby boy," Ms. Elrod explained.
Feb. 29 babies are the rarest kind, their birthdays forever enshrined in the splendid isolation of Leap Day. It's right up there in exclusivity with the Olympic games, U.S. presidential elections and World Cup soccer.
Which leads us to the point of this story.
Joshua is now a grown man with a lovely wife, Hannah, and two adorable children: Gideon, 3, and Tilly, 6. The family lives on Signal Mountain, and Joshua works in marketing for The North Face apparel company.
Within a few weeks, both father Joshua and daughter Tilly will turn 7 years old (well, really 28 for dad), which suggests a father/daughter birthday party for the ages.
"I'm glad my dad is going to be 7 like me," said Tilly, a first-grader at Thrasher Elementary. "It's fun."
There are plans for a special seven-themed birthday party, complete with seven-layer salad and a seven-layer cake. A suggestion: The official beverage of the father/daughter party should be 7Up.
When he was a kid, Joshua's mother always planned a special birthday event on Leap Day.
"When he was 4, we had a special fire-truck party," Ms. Elrod said. "When he was 8, we had his first boy/girl party. At 16, we gave him a surprise party."
Joshua remembers carrying a helium balloon from that 16th birthday party in his car all through high school. It was the balloon that wouldn't die.
All in all, there are lots of advantages to having a Feb. 29 birthday, the family says.
"He gets more phone calls on his birthday because people remember more," says Joshua's wife, Hannah.
"I just think it's going to be fun being in a nursing home at 16," Joshua added.
OK. ... I think.
Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...