It's my birthday, I can cry if I want to, cry if I want to...just so you know. Thankfully, at the moment, I don't want to. It's my birthday, Beve just reminded me, so I get to plan whatever we do today. This will, of course, include going to our favorite local bookstore with our birthday postcards so we can get our 39% discount (that's as high as they go no matter how old you get, sad to say, I'd be happy to get 53% off a book, really I would). Then maybe we'll take a walk down at the bay, where the sailboats will be out in force on the water and the coffee-drinkers in force along the paths.
A couple of years ago, when I got an unexpected call from my college boyfriend, he asked me when my birthday was (I, of course, remembered his, but then it is the same day as my dad's, which makes it easy). When I told him he said, "That's a stupid day for a birthday." "What?" I asked. "Because it's almost August but it isn't yet." 'Speaking of stupid,' I thought to myself, but didn't say it, especially considering his birthday is July 2, which is just barely July itself.
Anyway, ANYWAY, I actually have always loved having my birthday on the very last day of a month. And smack dab in the middle of the summer. My birthday was never going to fall on a school day, for one thing. And though this meant I never got to take cupcakes to school as a kid, it also meant I never had a test on my birthday either. Never had to worry about homework the night before my birthday. Of course, there were more than a few times when one or more of my parents were out of town on my birthday, more than a few times when I wasn't even home.
The summer I turned 16, I was in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and celebrated my actual birthday with the step-great-nephew of my great-aunt in Denver, driving around in his souped-up red and white Corvair. He thought he was pretty hot stuff, revving the engine. I thought, all things considered, I'd rather be in Pullman. When I got home, three weeks after my birthday, a little worse for wear, my mother spent the whole day trying to get me to take a shower. I spent the whole day trying to find someone to hang out with. Inexplicably, not a single one of my many friends was available. You can't imagine how little I felt the need for Mom's pushed-on shower. That night, however, one of my friends showed up. Her boyfriend had canceled. We went down to my room, where I hadn't even unpacked, and a few minutes later, Mom called us back upstairs. Our living room was stuffed with friends. I mean STUFFED. I was both shocked and appalled that I hadn't taken that dang shower! All these friends had actually gathered at the house across the street of the boy who would, a decade later, become my husband, though we didn't know it then. It was a wonderful surprise party. Even 37years later, I remember a few of the gifts I got that day. The not-yet-the-Beve bought me a book called, How to Be a Christian Without Being Religious. (Earlier that summer he'd also given me a t-shirt he'd brought back from being on workcrew at Woodleaf, a Young Life camp. Oddly, Beve also gave me Christmas gifts almost every year in high school. Maybe he knew something I didn't know!) My mother had made a three-tiered peanut butter cake, which was pretty cool, I thought even then. Now I know what a big deal it was that she knew I didn't like chocolate, and that she went to that kind of effort all the way around. Mom wasn't much of a party-giver, so it's pretty impressive that she put one on for me. Wow. I really can't imagine.
Anyway, my birthday. Yep, It's a good day. I'm glad to be alive, glad to be me, glad to be 53. Some people (read that as women) don't like admitting their ages after a certain point. But not me. The truth is, I wouldn't give any of my year up, not even the bad ones. Every one has taught me something, given me something, made me more into who God intended me to be. He knows how long it takes a human to become a Christ-one, or maybe a person to become His Person, and I'm willing to admit it's taken me 53 so far. 1979-80? A pretty bad stretch there. No doubt about it. I thought my heart had fallen out of my chest and cracked all over the pavement of Eugene, Oregon. Instead, He was just recreating me, preparing me for the heart meant for my real life. 1997-98, when tears flooded my life, my home, and my daddy-less world shifted on its axis? I wouldn't have missed that grief-swamped year. I needed to walk through it, even if that walking was often a crawl. And this year, which resembles nothing so much as my mother's old pressure-cooker with the metal lid screwed on tightly and steam coming out the top? There is purpose in this year too. Gifts I wouldn't miss with Grampie and Thyrza, the final gifts with Mom--thank God for the final gifts. Yes, I have loved, do love my life, intend to love every year of my life. All 53.
I've earned these years, every single one of them. Yep, I've earned them. As we all do.