Today is my birthday. It is not one that ends in “0” or “5” so it is special mainly because I made it through another year. I also have not succumbed to the annoying habit of boomers reflecting on turning 50 or 55 or 60 or whatever as if no other demographic has ever reached that milestone. Maybe if I reach 80, like my dad, I will consider myself special enough to write about it.
Birthdays in my family are, for the most part, celebrated quietly, especially as certain people of the female persuasion in my family get older. Some folks don’t like being reminded of advancing age, but I really don’t much care one way or the other just as long as I am around to celebrate. I got the usual nice cards and some interesting gifts… a pair of Crocs, pumpkin pancake mix, a coupon for the latest Charles Frazier book, and a pastry board from William Sonoma…yes, real men do cook, and I make very good biscuits. I also was treated to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where we ran into an MBU student, Michelle Jackson, who works there.
This birthday was different in one respect. For the first time, the person who gave me birth was not here to wish me happy birthday. My mom died in June. Even though she fought with Alzheimer’s disease for the last few years of her life, she seemed to always be able to connect with birthdays. My dad would put her on the phone and she would manage to bring up a detail or two about my birth from the foggy recess of her memory. Maybe it was because I was born at 1 am in the morning on a Sunday, and middle of the night births are always memorable. For whatever reason, at least for a moment we seemed to reconnect. So much of who I am I owe to my mom, and I thought about that today. She would probably be amused at the sight of me behind a pastry board. She was a great cook and only occasionally used recipes while I seldom venture from them. I guess it is my engineer’s mentality. One of the traditions at our house when I was growing up was to get our favorite meal on our birthday, something I usually took for granted. It is good though to have good memories and to have occasions like birthdays that cause us to reflect. I know that my mom is in a better place, but I still miss her.