I’ve always been a big birthday person. Because, to me, people are the absolute most important thing in life, celebrating birth is hugely important. I’ve always done them up big. I plan occasions for birthdays whenever I can. Tim is a guy who has never lost the little boy in him. I love that about him. He also loves the water and the outdoors. So for his fiftieth birthday, Mom and I rented a pontoon boat on a lake that Tim is fond of. And I bought him fifty toys. And that sunny afternoon, we had a boat filled with family and birthday cake and as Tim opened fifty toys, we played with them.
I had a blast making birthday moments when my daughter was growing up. One year we had a Looney Tunes Party. The kid was hooked on Looney Tunes cartoons. So I reserved the movie theater where we were living and had a buffet and family and popcorn and a Looney Tunes Cake and played Looney Tunes cartoons on the big screen. The kids swam, too. I have loads of pictures and can relive the moments and remember how happy she was even now, so many years later. And I hope she has some happy memories of those times, too.
Today, on my birthday, I celebrate, not how lucky the world is to have me, which is how I feel when I celebrate others’ birthdays, but I celebrate how lucky I am to have life. I love life. It hasn’t been easy so far, and I still love it. As I look back on the years, and the happy times and the not so happy times, I know that it all serves a good purpose. I am a writer. I feel incredibly lucky to be a writer. And, as with all things, it comes with a price. The pain that I’ve suffered is fodder for the stories that help others. Every time I receive a letter from someone who has been touched by a book I’ve written, I know that every single second of pain I’ve endured is a cost worth paying.
I wouldn’t argue, though, at having to spend a little less!! Especially in today’s economy!
So, today, I celebrate. Tim and I are on our last week of a very long road trip. And as I sit here today, in a home that is far away from my own, with birthday wishes greeting me from the moment I opened my eyes (Yes, Tim was first!) I also have with me a folder for my birthday celebration. It’s filled with birthday wishes from years past. One from my older brother who was killed when we were in our early twenties. A couple from my Mom. Most from my daughter. Those cards carry with them years worth of progressively better handwriting and her sweet sweet voice filled with all of the love she had for her Mama. And then, Ma. A precious gift. And as I look at them I realize that I have something no one else will ever have. This collection of heart moments from that little girl. She gave cards to others, but not every year. And they weren’t all kept. I have an original collection that cannot ever be re-created. She’s grown up now. And still giving her precious heart. But those long ago moments, they could have been lost…I am so very very glad I kept them.
So, Happy Birthday to all of us! We all have lives to celebrate! And can celebrate, every day, that fact that we are alive. I also wish a very special birthday today to a woman whose fan I have been since I was a kid. Valerie Harper. The one time I can remember going up against my father and brothers – and having my mother support me going up against my father – was the night the first Rhoda show aired. It conflicted with football and my father did not miss sports on our one big color television – ever. Mom and I lost the battle. But I still watched the show. Downstairs in my father’s entertainment room, sitting on a bar stool in front of a much smaller television set. I watched every single episode after that, as well, and cried when the show was canceled. So…to Valerie Harper…I am very thankful you were born. And that you are here with us to celebrate another birthday.