Of Birthdays and Gifts and Other Things

All this? For my birthday??

All this? For my birthday??

This week, I celebrated my birthday. Some people my age dismiss birthdays claiming, “I stopped celebrating my birthday years ago.” Frankly, I don’t understand this. Why wouldn’t anyone avoid a day when you call the shots and eat cake? My birthday is, and always has been, the pinnacle of birthday extravaganza week. This year it was exceptional.

My son and daughter-in-law gave me my first grandchild–a big, healthy baby boy–on my birthday. Like most grandparents I will worry about his health and happiness, that he knows the words for his spelling test and can swim the butterfly. Unlike most grandparents, I will hope that his favorite cake flavor is the same as mine. Dear Lord let him like vanilla with chocolate frosting.

As for my part, I will teach him what it means to have a late October birthday and ensure that he realizes he does not have to settle for a single day celebration. Every party will have a Halloween theme. Other people will throw parties on his birthday. And it will all be wonderful. More often than not, I hope I am with him and that we trick or treat until our pillowcases are full of candy.

People have speculated our lifestyle would change once we had grandchildren. I’m not so sure. Our current life allows us to live near each member of our family for extended periods of time.

Right now, we are a short drive to my mother-in-law’s apartment. Pat considers it a blessing to be able to spend two months near his mother at this age. If anything, this has taught us to embrace our life and all the possibilities it gives us.

We will spend December and next April in Charlottesville near our grandson. Then, we will set off again on another adventure. Maybe someday, Jack Patrick will join us. (After all, he is my birthday gift. I should be able to take him with me, right?)

This is a long way of saying, I had a wonderful birthday. Mike and Emily, thank you for the gift.

As for the “other things” part of this post, when Pat and I moved to Northern Michigan, I searched for various courses I might take during our extended stay. I signed up for two: salsa dancing and novel writing. Both classes exceeded my expectations.

We will arrive in Cuba with enough salsa savvy to get out on the floor and participate (after a few mojitos). That was my goal. Life is about more than showing up; it’s about the dance.

As for the novel writing class, I wrote the beginning and end of a book, defined the characters, and developed the plot lines. The instructor was well qualified, demanding, and funny. I estimate she was in her mid 70s. Her best single piece of advice, “If you want to write a book and it hasn’t happened yet, just don’t die. As long as you are alive, you have a chance.” Her faith fostered my faith. Why not write a book?

The first three chapters and the last chapter are finished. Since the characters are real people (the main character died in 2010), I need to research them, and this class set me on that journey. Fortunately, they are a well documented family and one of her cousins is alive and has agreed to help me.

This man lives in Israel. Saturday, Pat and I are leaving to see our grandchild, and then we will fly to Tel Aviv. There, and in Jerusalem, we have tours and dinners and interviews set up around Jewish life and customs, the holocaust, and this woman. The fun will be in the journey. It must be; it’s all that’s guarenteed.

I can’t fully control my skill or the outcome. But when life turns up the music, all any of us can do is get up and dance.

Categories: Ruminations

Tags: , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Nice post Julie, and congratulations again.
    Dino agrees that if he is your gift, you should be able to take him with you and teach him the finer things in life, like not having to worry about a mortgage or paying utility bills.
    Just don’t forget to teach him one particular truth …”Not all those who wander, are lost”

  2. Great picture, Pat!

  3. Many congrats on Jack Patrick!! And, on your birthday. Wow.

    I hope you enjoy Israel. I lived in Jerusalem for six months for part of my graduate degree from the U of Missouri Journalism School in 1976. I’ve returned twice, taking the whole family a few years ago. It is so full of energy – good and bad, of course!!

  4. WRITE A BOOK!!!!!! ( notice all caps!)

  5. Hi, Julie. I love this post. Congratulations to you and Pat on the arrival of your grandson! Also, I’m so excited you’re pursuing your book! Wishing you wonderful adventures in Jerusalem.

  6. Julie and Pat, We are watching the horrific news from Paris, and in your neighborhood.

  7. My life has been so crazy, I just opened your post and I am so excited for you. What a wonderful birthday present.. Congratulations to you and to Pat.. You are in for the ride of your life with your biggest cheerleader, your Grandson.. xxoo

    Sent from my iPhone


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