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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birthday Memories

This year I have a “real” birthday, and although I may look like a 52 year old woman, I’m having my 13th birthday. There are so many birthday memories; I hardly know which ones to talk about. Even though my oldest brother (sorry Doug, I don’t hold it against you!) told me one time that I didn’t have a birthday that year, (I was maybe 7?), which sent me crying to my mother, my family celebrated my birthday on the last day of February every year.

I have vague memories of sitting on the high step stool in our kitchen with my brothers and parents around the table singing “Happy Birthday”, clapping when I blew out the candles on the cake my mother made and decorated, and watching as I opened my gifts. Happy times! In Kindergarten we had the “birthday chair” which the child being honored sat in while their classmates formed a circle and sang to them. Afterward there would be cupcakes brought in by Mom for the whole class. I recall in elementary school going to other girls’ birthday parties at their homes, my friend Nancy’s featured a spaghetti dinner her mother prepared, cake and raspberry sherbet. Sometimes there were games in the finished basement and soda, sometimes games of tag and hide and seek outside. I remember one such party at my house when I turned 12. I vaguely remember lots of giggling, running in and out of the house, a cake with vanilla frosting and of course lots of gifts, mostly stationery, hair ribbons, and craft kits. I turned 16 on a Sunday and wore a lime green gown my mother made to church that day, and stood as the congregation wished me a happy birthday (I think I turned “4” that day, too!) Of course when I turned 18 my friends took me out to a bar for a rum & coke, and in college we celebrated my 19th for a whole week by going to the town bar for pitchers of beer and pizza. For my 21st my friends gave me a surprise party at my apartment. Every year my family got together for a meal and cake around the time of my birthday, memories most dear now that my parents are gone and my brothers and I all busy with our lives. We do manage to remember each other’s birthday and make a phone call or send a card to wish happiness for the birthday honoree. Birthdays at work have always featured cake and gifts from co-workers, and every 4 years much joking about my ‘tender’ age, and generally a paper crown. My 50th was celebrated a few times, with my family, with my two very dear friends who I met because of Hillary, who took me into NYC for dinner and a show, and with some friends from my childhood with whom I had recently reconnected. Of course, for the past 30 years my husband has been the bringer of cake, and buys me dinner and a gift.

Regardless of who I celebrate with, or what gifts I receive, I always eat too much cake--so much that I feel like I have a cake hangover the following day. No matter, it’s nice for at least one day a year to be made to feel extra-special and appreciated. This year is no exception and I have some lovely memories from it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Thanks

Today instead of just thoughts on Thursday, I decided to do some thanks.
For the beautiful blue sky, white puffy clouds, unseasonably warm weather, and sunshine today I give thanks.

For having my own washer and dryer, I am thankful.

For the mail delivery system which enables me to receive letters and cards from friends and family who live far away I give thanks.

For the ability to think and write, and the freedom to express my thoughts openly without fear of anyone, I am thankful.

For a quirky sense of humor and the ability to find the absurd in nearly everything, I give thanks.

For my back patio and back yard, I am thankful.

For a good cup of coffee in the afternoon, I give thanks.

For the abundant availability of sweets and pastries, I am thankful.

For affordable fresh fruit year round, I give thanks.

For relaxing afternoons, I am thankful.

For you, reading my blog, I give thanks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Love Poem

For Valentine’s Day I go to the archives for a poem written a year and two months before our wedding. It still rings true today, about one month before our 29th wedding anniversary. I hope it rings true in some way for you and your valentine!

1982, January 13

So we steal each precious moment

From out of Time’s generous hand

And grow to each other closer

Getting from life all we can

Our time is so precious and special

That we so lovingly, tenderly share

We love so to be together

And show the world how much we care.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Pleasures

The weekends typically hold many small pleasures, here a few I'd like to share:

The kind of snowy day that makes everything look pretty but leaves the roads only wet.

Making homemade potato soup and grilled bacon and cheese on rye for Saturday's supper.

Making the kitchen floor and cabinets shine.

Sleeping later than 5:00 a.m., then staying in jammies until 10:00 or so.

Bagels for breakfast!

Watching old episodes of the Flintstones, Jetsons, and Tom & Jerry with Hillary.

Watching a History channel program about the White House, and the 1970's version of The Red Badge of Courage starring "John-boy Walton" (I can't remember the actor's name!)

Time to read, do a word search puzzle or two, play computer games.

Trying a new recipe for Sunday's dinner--Chicken Fricasee.  Yummy!

Spending time with my husband and daughters planning a summer trip.

I hope you had a nice weekend too!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Poem & Reflection


Some days

All that I can see

Is every DISability

The little things

You cannot do:

Pull my hair,

Untie my shoe,

Say my name,

Rock the chair,

Look up and say

“Sky is blue”,

Draw a picture

With big red trees,

Run up to me,

Hug my knees,

Pick a flower

And hold it up,

Spill your milk

Out of the cup,

Throw your lunch

Against the wall,

Or even roll

A purple ball.

But then I look upon your face,

Trusting me in every place,

And then it’s clear

Just how lovely and how dear

Having you to love can be

And for a heartbeat,


I wrote this poem in the early 1990’s, most likely when Hillary was about 3 years old. She hasn’t changed much, she’s bigger, and we’re certain that she understands most of what’s said to her, but she has no way to really let us know. It’s ok, I’m used to it now, after all it’s been nearly 20 years. But every once in a while all I can see is what she is not able to do in relation to her peers. I don’t mean her peers who have no disability, but rather her peers who do have disabilities. Even among those peers, she is generally the most affected by an assortment of challenges. This is something I’ve been struggling with this week after spending last Sunday afternoon at a teen/adult Special Olympics bowling competition in which Hillary was competing.

This wasn’t my first time at this event; we were there last year as well. It’s one of the nice things about Hillary’s school program that they compete in the Special Olympics, and with a ball ramp and some assistance Hillary can participate as well. She used to participate in a league for children with disabilities until her bowling buddy and one of her first friends from infanthood, Francesca, passed away. We didn’t have the heart to find a new partner after that. Any how, when the opportunity presented itself we took advantage of it. Special Olympics is a happy time for the athletes and for the volunteers, they all seem to be enjoying themselves and the athletes are so proud of their accomplishments. Even as Hillary received a bronze medal, however, my stubborn heart refused to be lightened. My heart was hurting from the re-realization that among the minority that those with disabilities are, she is a minority. Most of the other participants can walk, and even of those who were also in wheelchairs, she was the only one who can’t talk, and to the casual observer seemed to be indifferent to those around her. I have to give the volunteers credit for at least trying to engage her, and the other participants tried to talk to her so it wasn’t that she was being ignored. Still my heart remained heavy.

One day I will be able to find the joy in this day. I will be able to see the happiness that escaped me then and eludes me now. First I must once again grieve the daughter as I dreamed her when she was born, and truly see the amazing one who is with me.