Today is my birthday. I turned 51 years old. My children seem to have forgotten. Well, my 3 legal children apparently forgot. The one that should have been mine and a bunch of the others remembered. It’s not like mine always forget – just, well, sometimes… at least since they got old enough to have their own lives. When they were younger their dad always reminded them. I have some really neat mementos of those childhood well-wishes. However, left to their own devices…
I guess what goes around truly does come around.
One of the few regrets I have not been able to overcome since my parents’ deaths in the mid 1980s is that I so rarely made any big deal of their birthdays and anniversaries. The only thing I can chalk it up to is that I was going about doing what my mother had raised me to do: living my life independently.
In 1982 my mother turned 50, five months after the birth of our youngest son – you know, the little dinner skeptic I wrote about earlier. I was so wrapped up in my life with a 3-year-old, a new baby, and a new job that her big FIVE-0 just slid by (as mine did) virtually unnoticed. I think I called her at work that day, but that weekend when she and Dad went to their lake house and celebrated with friends there, my little family was just too busy to take the time to make the drive. There would always be next year. Within 6 months she’d been diagnosed with colon cancer. Within 2 years she was gone. Her 51st birthday was the last we were able to celebrate with her. (And NO – I do NOT intend this to by MY last!!).
In 1982 my father also turned 50 – four days before Mother. She would razz him unmercifully for those four days… “Hey old man.” “Careful there, Old Guy. You know you can’t keep up with this young chick!” She loved him so very much. My relationship with him, however, is a whole ‘nother 500-page essay. I loved him too, but… Just suffice it to say that for the most part I wasn’t interested in making sure his birthdays were pleasurable. Then, in 1987, 3 months before his 55th birthday, just when we were getting our problems worked out and becoming friends for the first time in our lives, he went and died on me, too. The doctors called it massive, multi-system failure caused by years of drinking and smoking too much. I knew it was from a broken heart – he just never really got over losing Mother.
Now here I sit 20+ years later understanding all too well how much it hurts to have your children forget those special events that mark the passing of your life. But I’m not really upset or feeling sorry for myself – I’m once again feeling sorry for my parents. And I’m feeling sorry for what my children might go through if I were to be gone suddenly from their lives.
So, here and now, I deputize you all to be my voice if in, say, oh, 50 or so years from now I happen to shuffle off this mortal coil and my children should express any guilt over having somehow “let me down” because they lived their lives as I raised them: strong and independent. It’d hurt me a whole lot more to think of them as being anything but who they were raised to be than it does to have my birthday occasionally forgotten. I know they love me. No question. Period.
Now, get off that computer, go call somebody important in your life and tell them that you love them. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion – it just has to be heartfelt and frequent enough that they don’t have a chance to forget it. Believe me, it will help all concerned if you ever miss an important date.
Peace, Blessings, and Love to all.