Another month kicked the bucket, and now October rolls in. My birthday arrives in 22 days, as my brother politely pointed out last night at Outback. He treated me to dinner. I had the Pecan Trout covered in candied pecans and served on a bed of wild rice and a side of steamed veggies. Very good. I suggest you also order the wine suggestion. It will cleanse the palate so that each taste is as crisp and fresh as the first.
Birthdays aren't what they used to be. As a kid, I was all excited about the present and the cake. As a young adult, I was all excited about the partying and sex. As a mature adult, I am not excited at all...wait a second. There is cake.
The last few birthdays have been depressing for me, not because I'm aging--I look damn good for 45. But because I miss a ritual that was an intricate part of my birthday, my maternal grandmother's memory.
When I lived away, she always sent a card with a special message penned and some money in it. Then sometime on my birthday or even the day after, she would call and say:
"I remember the day you were born. It was sunny and warm. The sun was so bright it hurt your eyes. When I first saw you, I loved you right away. I went to work the next day and my supervisor told me I was too young to be a grandmother. I was 37 years-old."
She would pause and I would wait, knowing there was one more important thing she had to say.
"I love all my grandchildren, but you will always be special because you were born first. I love you, Sherrie."
About three years ago, I got a card from her that was addressed crazy. She had written my first name and the first 3 letters of the last. On the street address, she put the number behind the street name and there was no zip. A sign of her mind becoming lost in the grips of Alzheimers. My mom marveled at how it got to me. I silently thanked the Postal Goddess for delivering it. It wasn't signed but the card was designed for a Granddaughter. At least I had the sentiments of that to comfort me.
After the party (since my nephews have arrived we have a party for everyone's birthday), I felt listless, as if something was missing. I didn't say anything. But I think Mom instinctively knew. She quietly called Grandmother and must have told her it was my birthday. When she handed me the phone, I didn't know who was on the line. Granny said, "Hey. Happy Birthday. No one told me. I don't have a present." But she did, even if she didn't realize it.
We talked and I made her laugh. Part of me prayed I would hear her birthday speech but it never came. We hung up and I cried that night, not because I aged a year but because my Grandmother would never be the same again.
That was the last card I recieved. Now when I talk to her I don't stress over what's not said, just embrace what is said. Part of growing older is dealing with changes, I don't look for a message or even a card now. But there is a part of me that yearns for a memory that made me feel extra special, even if only for a day.