Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday. I spent the day with my ten-month-old grandson, Baker. We alternated between playing with his stuffed ‘my first basketball’ while watching the March Madness games and him practicing walking. He gave me my first “Happy Birthday Grandma” card and reminded me why I need to stay healthy. Being with him was the best present.

 

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I think of my birthday over the years and how I’ve chosen to celebrate. Last year I took my Solo Journey and was traveling south on I-95 on my special day. That evening I arrived in Bradenton, Florida and ate dinner with my cousin, Linda. I’d taken my trip earlier than usual because I was anticipating our grandson’s birth in May and didn’t want to be away in case he came early. On my way to Linda’s, my sister called to wish me a happy birthday and told me that the day before would have been Linda’s son, Joe’s birthday. He’d died less than two years before at the age of 47. It was the second year of Linda grieving the loss of her son on his special day.

Linda and I went to dinner that night, and ate delicious Gulf Coast shrimp and talked about Joe. I’d gotten to know him better in the years before he died, mostly through phone calls and a couple of visits. He’d asked me to purchase some ‘Duke wear’ for him at their student store. It helped to brighten his mood, wearing the ‘Cameron Crazy’ blue hair when he watched the games, a counterbalance to the constant barrage of health problems. My meal with Linda was bittersweet, tasting of salty seafood and tears. My bond with her was strengthened during our visit and I was reminded of how God’s spirit leads me in where and when to take my journeys– that one just happened to be at my birthday– and Joe’s.

Four years ago when I was celebrating the Big 60, my friend, Delores and I wanted to do something special together– since she’d be celebrating the same milestone in February. We chose to go for a three-day stay at the Clear Creek Dude Ranch in the mountains of North Carolina. She’d been there several times with her granddaughters and felt comfortable riding horses. I hadn’t gotten on a horse since that one time on my Wyoming journey which had been four years prior.

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(L-R) Delores and Me defying 60!

As it turned out, our initial morning ride was the first time the wranglers had led a group on that trail in the spring season. When we went down the side of the mountain, through a laurel grove, the trail had washed out due to the melted snow. It was a bumpy and steep descent and I held on for dear life. The wranglers seemed as surprised as we were at the rough path. I managed to stay on the horse for the twice-daily rides while we were there, but I vowed that if I ever got on a horse again, it would be on a flat, sandy beach with a soft place to land!

That trip to Clear Creek Ranch wouldn’t have been possible this year. Now, Delores is going with her husband to his treatment for melanoma that has been filled with complications. We keep in close contact by texts– because now she hardly has the time for one of our long and leisurely phone calls. I’m glad that we chose to do that for our sixtieth, our way to step into this decade.

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Hiking on a brisk, March morning in the mountains

Last October, when my husband, David was about to have his birthday, I asked him how he wanted to celebrate. He responded in typical fashion by saying, “I don’t want to think about it.” He added a comment about how he didn’t like getting older, how our “bodies fall apart after sixty.”

I get it; things change and ‘body parts’ do wear down.

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A bit of humor from my younger son, Ross (card by Pretty Alright Goods)

But didn’t having breast cancer teach me to be thankful for each day and focus on what I still have instead of what I’ve lost? I don’t deny that things do wear out and we spend more time maintaining our health as we age, but I also think it’s amazing that things still work as well as they do at 64.

Tonight, our family will go out to dinner to continue my celebration. We’ve chosen a restaurant that has easy access to the outside, so if Baker starts his squealing– which is charming for his family, but likely, annoying for other diners, we can take him outside. Saturday night is free cake night with an entree, and they make the best cakes! We’ll choose different types and sample one another’s slices. And with the sweet taste of that treat, I’ll remember how good it is to celebrate in the way you choose, with the people you love, cherishing each year as the gift you’ve been given.

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A gift of flowers from Ross

 

How About You?

How do you want to celebrate your next birthday?

Who are the people you’ll choose to be with?

 

13 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me!

  1. Oh, Connie, I was so caught up in my own Drama that I did not offer you your personalized Birthday Greeting from me. I too was into my birthday. My son, on Tuesday, fell while working, and ended up in the Hospital in Spartanburg SC. He is doing fine but it did keep me from doing the Regular things I really do. This was a great post for reflection. You do a great job with sharing those wonderful personal reflections. Happy Birthday, Connie. The World is a much better place with you traveling around and sharing your loving Spirit.

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    • Thanks, Marie. My friend’s office banner comes to mind that used to help me in my school nursing days. It read, “I Choose Joy!” I think there’s a lot of truth to that.
      Wishing you much joy this day. Thanks for reading and for your continued support.
      Connie

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  2. I have made my birthday more memorable the past few years. My celebrations have been smaller and more private, but I have chosen to celebrate with a meaningful activity whether a hike, bike ride, or something else. It gives me good memories with close friends and provides an opportunity to celebrate in a very healthy way. It’s good to keep having birthdays.

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    • Hey Kristie,
      Thanks for reading and sharing how you spend your birthday. I like how intentional you’ve been in choosing your company and your activity. It is good to keep having birthdays especially as you’re building relationships and shared memories.
      Best to you for many more Happy Birthdays!
      Connie

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  3. You are such an inspiration !!!!! God is always in my life, but I find myself experiencing even more of His love and joy every day. I have finished reading your book and now ready to review and post. I can not begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading every last word, absorbing your words, thoughts, verses and antidotes. You are a very special woman in so many different ways……so glad that I had the pleasure of meeting you on that serendipitous day in White River Junction, Vermont. By the way, I am still there greeting travelers and enjoying life stories if a visitor is so inclined !!❤️❤️❤️

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  4. Hey Janet,
    How generous of you! Such kind and encouraging words. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book and plan to have you in the sequel! How serendipitous meeting you in that Welcome Center! It’s great that you are experiencing more of God’s love and joy every day. There can be no greater aspiration for our lifetime than that.
    Thanks for reading my blog and book and for supporting my writing– and my life. May God continue to envelope you in the fullness of His joy!
    Connie

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  5. PS……Baker is sooooo cute!! Enjoy every moment with him🤗. We have an 11 month old Grandson, Oliver, in Arlington, VA that we dearly love and try to visit as often as possible. Meantime, the kids send us pictures and videos🤗
    frequently. First steps have happened and we LOVE his baby giggles which are priceless ❤️❤️‼️ Oh my, the joy that Grandchildren give us ….little blessings from God !!

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    • Thanks, Janet. I tell folks all the cliches about being a grandparent are true! Such delight in watching our little ones. Speaking of videos, my son just posted a picture of Baker walking all the way across the room and squealing–which he loves to do! So vocal! I know what you mean about baby giggles! Glad you get to visit Oliver often. They are truly blessings from God.

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