For as long as I can remember, I have chosen to keep my birth date closely held. It's not that I don't want anyone to know my age, because even my grandchildren know how old I am. (If they can't remember exactly, they just say I am "older than dirt"!) It's simply the fact that everyone has a birth date, so to me, celebrating really isn't that special.
I expected my birthday this year to be celebrated as it has been the past several years: Brett would send a card and perhaps flowers as well. Dawn would call, sing Happy Birthday, invite me to dinner and give me a little gift. And that's what happened this year, with the exception that she said we could go do dinner that evening, or we could have a cookout at their house Saturday. I opted for the cookout.
Dawn called Saturday morning to say she had to run an errand over this way and would pick me up. I told her I didn't mind driving since it's easier for me to leave when I'm ready without interfering in their routine. But she insisted and I didn't argue. After all, this was my 70th birthday, a milestone in decades.
When we arrived at their house, the grill was in the driveway and Bob and Brandon were tossing the football back and forth. They followed me inside as I told Dawn about the Jibjab e-card that Jeff and Mimi had sent. Then as we walked into the living room, my eyes fell on one of my neighbors just as I heard the word "SURPRISE!"
Sitting there were friends from the condos where I live; a friend/coworker from the hospital gift shop; Brett; my brother Jason and his wife, Evie; brother Jeff, his fiance, Mimi, and his daughter, Brittany. And next to them, two women who, along with me, belong to an internet group one of the progeny once described to an outsider as "The Ax Murderers and Internet Dating Club." Seeing them, and knowing how far they had traveled to be there for me made me cry. As I shed tears on Brett's shoulder, I said to the assembly how glad I was that I'd actually showered that morning and put on clean clothes!
What a celebration it was! Several weeks ago, Pam, one of the day's guests, and I were discussing birthdays, and I said something about not wanting to know my 70th was approaching. That was the party's theme. Dawn had e-mailed invitations to the entire Ax Murderer family and several had sent birthday cards. There were funny gifts and sensible ones. Jason and Evie gave me a T-shirt with Three Rules of Getting Older. There were gift cards for restaurants and merchandise. Useful gifts included a battery-powered candle (perhaps so that if I leave the condo I don't absentmindedly leave a candle burning!) Pam, one of the internet group, bakes as a hobby and she's good. She brought cheesecake pops as a gift for me, plus enough for everyone else to share.
|My T-Shirt with the Party's Theme|
|Pam's Cheesecake Pops YUM!!|
I didn't get my cookout. Wisely, Dawn had ordered food prepared for the crowd. We helped ourselves to chicken, pasta, sausage with peppers and onions and salad. And of course cake, red velvet with cream cheese frosting that I'd requested, and ice cream followed.
It was humbling to realize that I am someone special to many people. Some drove from Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana to share those few hours. Brett flew in from Los Angeles for the day. Others, although they live closer, also took the time from their day to share the celebration -- a celebration for someone who doesn't "do" birthdays.
Thank you, Dawn. You managed, with the cooperation of the invitees, to carry off the surprise of my life! Although you are my daughter, you are also my best friend and I will never forget the effort you made to make this my most memorable birthday ever.