Fairly apropo being born on Labor Day for reasons other than the obvious. Yes, it’s my birthday, and it has the feeling of peace that it normally does, creeping up amongst the other aspects of life that have always taken more time and attention: the end of summer, getting ready for school, the advent of Fall. And I have always liked it that way. A quiet day for a less than quiet person.
My oldest son dropped by unexpectedly yesterday while I was here alone. He and a friend came to escape the oppressive heat in East County Paradise (105 degrees. thunderheads, and 70% humidity) and to give me a birthday hug — very, very nice. And my middle son called to send his wishes ahead of time as well, to say that his schedule was a mess, but that he could possibly make it by Thursday if that was okay. And yes, it was more than okay. Really. And I smiled through the phone knowing he was worrying about being late, because he’s like that.
I’ve always been one who prefers looking after herself, so I’ve never really longed for any particular thing to be wrapped up and presented on my birthday. I love everything. I can remember from one year to the next what someone has taken their time to wish me well, and often remember the setting in which the gift was given, the wrap, and special cards as well. But I’d much rather be on the giving side of things. I always have.
The MoH has a bit of a ritual for special days. If I manage to get out of bed before he does, I’m quickly reminded that I should get back into bed to relax. That “good” coffee will be up shortly, the newspaper as well, and that the pets will be taken care of. I’m sore today after a hard 30-minute swim in the pool yesterday evening, and have been laying quite low because of the heat. I know I should consider getting some glucosamine for this achy body nonsense, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Getting back into bed was not something I had on my agenda, as I very much felt the need to reposition myself in a big chair downstairs to read the paper and finalize my digestion of yet another year gone by. And this particular year was a bit of an unexpected turn of events.
But not wanting to put the MoH in any position other than to be able to execute his plan, I pulled up the shades on the windows and settled down to stretch out my tight calves, work out the kinks in my lower back, and scoop up a book that could be much less serious than the last three I’ve read. I quickly thought that this might not be so bad after all. No sooner than I’d begun to read that the RT, who had been hovering down the hall, moved his lanky self around the end of the bed with a very large card and a hug to follow. Such a lovely thing to have your 15-year-old willingly give a hug. He stayed as I read the card aloud, settling in on the floor next to my side of the bed where Big was still not sure if it was time to arise. The MoH soon arrived with his coffee specialty and bags bearing gifts. The cats were not far behind. Such a gathering!
I opened some lovely skin products from a favorite store I haven’t been to for quite some time, all encased in a box that is a present in and of itself…”This is a new line that is supposed to really help your skin,” the MoH tells me, knowing that I worry about dryness, and more now than ever before, getting older. I squeeze a bit of the lotion on the back of my hand and smooth it along my arm, noticing its silkiness, its subtle fragrance. Cure de raisin 30 jours — 30-day grape cure, the products say and I’m anticipating their results as I look at each one. It’s not the number I’m worried about so much as the alteration to my physiology caused by surgery last winter, and the rude removal of parts that still provided much needed hormones. I’ve become hyper aware of any change I notice…and wonder about it. It’s a bit depressing, but only for a moment. At least that’s what I tell myself, knowing full well, that as brutally honest as I’ve been with others throughout my life, I’ve been a calculating liar to myself. But never mind that. There are better things to get on with.
The chocolates? They’re amazing. I receive a small box a few times a year, and try to make them last, savoring one at a time. The MoH chooses each one himself, before having the chocolatier package them. Before deciding which I’ll sample first, I carefully read the provided information, marveling at the interesting, and exotic combination of flavors I’ve come to expect: Chevere — goat cheese, Pear Williams and crushed black pepper butter cream. Mmm…you have no idea how lovely they are and how perfect it is that there are directions so that a sweet gift isn’t ruined by the reaction one can have from biting into a piece of chocolate without knowing what exactly is hidden inside. God forbid that it could ever be a cherry sitting in a sickly sweet center on a bed of mint icing. I am quite safe from that nightmare with these delectable chocolates from Venezuela. And I have offered to share, but rarely does anyone accept the invitation, perhaps noticing the glint of insincerity in my eye as I begin to replace the lid…
I do think that times like these — quiet mornings at home — have been the most wonderful aspect of my life — with those I most care about hovering around. At times, I’ve wondered if there’s a bit of obligation attached to it all, and wouldn’t care if that was the case, being more concerned that I was causing that sense of “have to.” The RT took my invitation to settle in on the other side of the bed to take in the comics he loves, while I sipped my latte and began my book.
I’ll adjust to this business of cruising down the back side of 50 like I’ve adjusted to everything else in life. That’s what one does, right? And I plan to do it with a smile on my face, an ever-increasingly active brain, a sense of welcome to whatever comes my way, and knowledge that I’ve been fortunate.
Yes, I have.
This is my Birthday Song….it isn’t very long… But that’s only because I’ve got things to do, people to meet, and places to go. Bring it on!
Quite a different speed than the one set last year. The MoH, with the help of good friends, organized a catered sunset dinner with 60 of my closest friends *wink* table cloths, waiters carrying appetizers, a buffet that still has my salivary glands working, a variety of desserts to make me want to give up any idea of curbing my appetite, and an unending wave of beverages served on request… Truly lovely.
But not any more so than today.
Because so much stretches ahead — yet another half of life to go, and it will certainly be a long one, as my grandparents have lived to be nearly 100.
And that’s a very long time.