My post is later today for several reasons. First, I slept late, so I didn’t get a chance to write before I needed to get to school to teach my writing class. After class, I picked up my friend Joyce who treated me to a succulent lunch at Red Lobster to celebrate my 62nd birthday. We were joined by my daughter Sarah who surprised me with a bouquet of roses. Yup, that’s right. I’ve hit another milestone in my life. It is almost surreal that Social Security checks will start showing up soon.
To some of you turning the ripe old age of 62 seems like I’m ancient, and I will agree most of my life is in the rear view mirror, but if my parents’ life span is an indication of how many years I’ll still be walking around this earth, I’ve got another good twenty years to go.
I am so lucky that my friends and family understand what a big kid I am about my birthday. You can all blame my parents for starting the tradition that I was special one day per year. On July 31st, I got to be “the big cheese” for an entire day. I had my choice of cake, dinner and an activity. (By the way, my siblings also enjoyed such a special day, too.) My choice for as long as I can remember was bratwurst on the grill, poppy seed cake with custard filling and butter cream frosting. My outing choice? It was always a trip to Brown’s Lake in Burlington, Wisconsin.
When I was young, all summer my father checked behind my ears searching for gills because any time I could get in the water, I was in it. I was a card-carrying Red Cross Beginner Swimmer at age six, and I never looked back after that feat. Summer after summer, I completed one or two more parts of the Red Cross program going all the way to Life Guard training. So, it was no surprise I would pick to go to the lake for my special outing. The other special part about this venue was my mother couldn’t swim. When it was about time I knew she would call me in to go home, I’d swim out into the deep water and pretend I didn’t hear. When she started yelling, “Barbara Jean!”, I knew the jig was up and my birthday would end badly if I didn’t high-tail it into shore to pack up to go home.
At home, we’d enjoy the luscious cake with a big scoop of ice cream, I’d open my presents, and went to bed a happy kid every July 31st.
The worst part of such a tradition is I never stopped being a big kid about my birthday. Thank God, I’m surrounded by special people who understand that part of me and indulge my need to be special once a year.