It’s been a whirlwind week, but on Sept. 8th, I celebrated another trip around the sun! A lot of friends made a big fuss over “the day,” and those were nice surprises. I was honored by the “touch” of social media and the dozens of well wishes on Facebook and Twitter, some from faces I’ve never seen and people I have yet to meet, others who have become best of friends although miles apart. There are certainly more added in the “Bucket List” to meet in the upcoming years. Each are growingly important to me and made me smile. The riches of all that is good in people surrounded me and caused me pause throughout the day.
This day also caused me to reflect and remember the special birthdays of years past. Growing up in Tallahassee, FL, was truly wonderful. A kid in the country, exploring, scampering through the woods, creating imaginary worlds, games, and recreating episodes of Bonanza and Gunsmoke on a bicycle, or the pony that we had were the best of times. Here are a few really special memories that deserve a mention in my mind anyway!
Early in life, birthday presents mean a lot. Toys, gifts,.. that’s what seems important. Later in life,.. it’s the little things that mean the most. Like lunch with my girls, my mom and my sister, just an hour, just a few moments to look at the faces of those who influence my life.
One of my first memories was the birthday spent at my grandparents, and sitting in my grandfather’s lap while opening some gifts, later spending the night with he and my grandmother, sleeping right between them. hearing them laugh the next morning about what it is like sleeping with a little tornado. Having children later, I understand.
For those of you that didn’t notice, I am a bit of a country girl, and it runs deeper than my accent for sure. My birthday always fell right as school began and right around Labor Day. In Tallahassee, FL years ago, one of the things we looked forward to was the rodeo! It came to town near Labor Day at the Leon County Fairgrounds, and so for several years in a row, I took a “gaggle” of girls to the rodeo and then home for a slumber party. I can’t remember really the actual rodeo, but I do remember the girls, the laughter, my dad trying to make it a “serious” event and my neighbors, Mal and Dottie, coming with us. They participated in just about every major event in my life.. and lots in between. I remember the bull that hit the edge of the fence in a puddle of mud and that sent mud spattering Dottie’s white pantsuit and laughing so hard it hurt!
I remember my “Sweet 16” celebrated at another party at my house. a day of swimming and hamburgers with a dance set up outside and half the baseball and football team turning out followed by a sleepover with my girlfriends and playing twister and listening to my parents old LP’s and learning the “Twist” while listening to Chubby Checkers. To top it off, a few weeks earlier, there was the Lemon Yellow Toyota Corolla that my dad helped me pick out. A 4-speed that I had to learn to drive, with a radio and AC.. and not much else! It cost $4,500, and my payments were $91/month.
I remember my 24th, just a few weeks after my first child was born and how good it felt to float in the pool at my parents while everyone oohed and ahhed over the baby.
For my 35th, newly divorced and going through the find myself stage, (which I think I probably still in!), I celebrated with a friend by getting the tattoo I wanted while she got her 7th.
On my 40th, I had my first true surprise birthday given by someone I was dating.. surrounded by friends who organized everything. I was in shock that he actually pulled it off. Later I found out he was a master of secrets. Err.
For my 45th, I kicked up my heels at the Bradfordville Blues Club with 45 friends and family members. We danced to the tunes of “The Sauce Boss” Bill Wharton and three generations got to stir that pot of gumbo with Bill. For me, it was pure heaven, music, friends and beer.
There have been many a birthday in between, some memorable, some quiet and reflective, but each one a trip back in time to the best gifts in my life, family, friends, good food, music and the rodeo of life. Thanks for being a part of the sights I’ve seen along the way!