This month’s RTT writing challenge topic is birthdays. I’m sure Emily knew it was my birthday and that this is the reason she chose this as the topic this month, (and has nothing to do with her child’s birthday). I must admit, and I feel embarrassed about this, but I do not recall my own birthdays very well. I look back at all the stories I’ve been able to write from my memories and sadly, as I sit here trying to draw on important birthdays like 21, 18, 16 and the all so dreaded ‘decade birthdays’, the only one I remember with a lot of clarity is the one I wrote about in my first concert (read me). My parents had purchased tickets to Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare concert in Cincinnati. It was my first concert, a memorable performance and a feeling of crossing over into the early stage of adulthood. Easy to remember, right?
Why do I not remember my own birthdays? Perhaps my story can be about that, a little self psycho analysis? Should I blame it on my birthday typically occurring during a Spring Break and maybe being away from home? Hmm…maybe. I don’t like ‘birthday attention’, so maybe that’s why I don’t remember any birthdays.
So how about I tell you about a birthday I do remember – today! “Today” is my birthday! Yea me! I am xx today (old)! Where did the time go? That’s a cliché comment I know, but if you are a reader of my stories, then you possibly appreciate some of my tales that have been pulled from my childhood days. I remember some of them so very well, but still……not birthdays. Do I look forward to my own birthday? Only for the birthday dinner – chicken livers with mashed potatoes and then for dessert it’s German chocolate cake (read me).
Birthdays for others, now that’s a different story! I have surprised my wife on most of the oh-so-dreaded ‘decade birthdays’. I think my favorite birthday of hers was the surprise party and trip for her 50th….oops, I mean her 11th anniversary of her 39th birthday.
It was July in California. I had planned a backyard/indoor gathering of most of our golf club friends. Her parents and sister had also secretly flown in to join in on the fun. The relatives had flown in early so my wife was thinking ‘that’ was the full extent of any surprise. On the day of the planned surprise party though, her sister and mom had taken Kim away to a casino and had been given instructions when to return. Meanwhile I had been in contact with all of her golf friends. A couple of them showed up early to help me prepare a few outside decorations. Indoors, I had been cooking all day. I think I had cooked up some favorite Louisiana dishes because I know for sure I had made crawfish etouffee that day. If you’ve not experienced the Cajun cooking in your lives, you’re missing something special. The food of Louisiana and the whole act of cooking and eating, sharing the time with friends is one of the aspects that made our 5-year stay in Louisiana so enjoyable so I knew that the food was going to be a hit that day. If memory serves me right, I also had cooked up a big pot of red beans and rice – another southern favorite.
The short version of the party is that all the friends showed up and Kim was thoroughly surprised by the party. Everyone had a great time presenting her with wonderful gag gifts such as a tee shirt which read, “I’m 50 – it’s better than being pregnant”. But the party wasn’t the end of the surprises. In October it was to be our 30th wedding anniversary so I had scheduled a several day golf getaway trip to Vancouver Island up in British Columbia. No sooner after Kim had opened up her presents, she was faced with the reality that in another day she was going to have to leave the house and her family for a few days. She loves to golf so as long as the weather would hold out, we would have a great vacation. Vancouver Island was special. We stayed at a place called Tigh Na Mara, in one of the Oceanview suites. It was a fabulous stay with great golf, great weather and great restaurants – one of my favorite vacations. The birthday was a hit!
So why is it then that I do not remember my own birthdays?
I’ll tell you why – because for me, remembering birthdays is like the logging of the passage of time itself. After getting hit by a school bus (read me), I have tried to keep this life-altering memory with me as a way to remind myself that my life, my time here is essentially a gift, a lucky gift. My birthday is not such a special day for me. The day after getting hit by a bus – special. The day after coming out of surgery for blood clotting – special. The day after surviving a head-on collision with a drunk driver – special.
Life is a journey, birthdays are only points in time and a reminder that there may not be many more chicken liver dinners.
Feel free to read the other great birthday stories via the little blue frog link