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Today is October 3rd, the day after my birthday which, until a few hours ago I thought was October 2nd. Yesterday I received a bouquet from one of my sons and I thought it was very thoughtful of him if even a day early. Actually he is to be forgiven because until he was a teenager I thought his birthday was October 24th. I entered that date on every paper I had to fill out for him. One day he said to me, “Mom, my birthday is the 20th.” I looked at his birth certificate and he was right.
I’ve always had troubles remembering things like birthdays. Some I can recall by association with an event. For example I remember my daughter’s day because it was the day in August when Mt. Vesuvius blew up. She, ever the ancient history buff, had pointed this out to me when she was little and I never forgot it. My oldest son’s date I can remember because it’s the date his idol, Jimi Hendrix died. This strange method backfired on me, however, when I decided to remember my daughter-in-law’s birthday because it was June 4th - D Day. It wasn’t, it was June first.
It’s not nice to forget people’s birthdays. I have the dates of family and friends written down in a notebook but I never seem to look up anything in that particular book. If I do remember I’m usually at least a few days late and send a card as a note of apology. Yesterday I received a couple of nice phone calls and since the date was never mentioned I figured someone else had the day wrong. Today a dear friend called and said, “Happy Birthday a day late”.
I told her not to be concerned because as far as I knew all day long, today was the second not the third.
The first time I was married I chose my birthday as my wedding day, figuring that even if I lost track of my birthday I would remember my anniversary. I did forget both on several subsequent occasions but my husband remembered both. What he never knew was my right age. I had been lying about it since I was thirteen. I was so embarrassed about being a sophomore in high school and graduating at 15 that I pretended I was 17. The school was very understanding and my age was never mentioned. When I went to California at 17 I gave my age as 19 in order to get a job. My age was never questioned - not by my boss whom I married two years later. I forgot about it until my 21st birthday party when I blurted out, “I’m so happy, at last I can vote”. I had a lot of explaining to do.
I really do like birthdays; other peoples that is, especially my kids. They’re all too old to appreciate my fussing but there were glorious years when I could celebrate with them, with gusto. The night before the big day I blew up scads of balloons and hung them with crepe paper festoons all over the house.
I flew a Japanese carp kite at the front door and the celebrant was allowed to stay home from school, usually the most appreciated gift. We had a special breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a cake from a bakery cleverly decorated to demonstrate some favorite theme, and lots of presents. I kept it up until they all moved out.
When I was a kid my birthday always coincided with a very big, fancy horse show in Madison Square Garden in New York City and I was taken to it as one of my gifts. I’ve always been crazy about horses so it was a great present. I remember the thrill of seeing the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police who, every year, put on one of their drills, all resplendent in red coats.
As a young woman living in San Francisco, football games were part of my birthday special events - the 49ers if they were at home and either Stanford or the University of California games if the 49ers were away.
So today, or rather yesterday, lovely people have been kind and I am grateful.
When you’ve wracked up as many years I have, in the words of the song, “The party’s over my friend” and, as the other song says it’s time to send in the clowns.
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