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Happy Pandemic Birthday to Me

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Candles at my age are a fire hazard. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

My husband gave me the bad news at midnight last night. 😂 I’m now a year older. We always joke about him being older, but it’s only by a few moths. This morning I was thinking that both our mothers’ pregnancies would have overlapped by a few months. He the oldest in his family and me the youngest. My mother wanted six children, but the doctor told her I should be the last and she listened having a tubal ligation after I was born.

I thought I would take a look back and just see what was happening the year I was born. From Wikipedia:

  • 1954 – The Tournament of Roses Parade becomes the first event nationally televised in color
  • 1954 – Detonation of “Bravo”, a 15 megaton Hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki weapons, it vapourised three islands, displaced the islanders and caused long lasting contamination.
  • 1954 – Joseph McCarthy discredited in Army-McCarthy hearings
  • 1954 – Censure or formal disapproval on Senator Joseph McCarthy after the Army-McCarthy hearings. He died three years later in 1957.
  • 1954 – President Eisenhower proposes the Domino Theory: If South Vietnam fell to communism, so too would all nations of Southeast Asia, and eventually worldwide.
  • 1954 – First Indochina War ends after the U.S. kept sending aid to the French. France was defeated by Ho Chi Minh and his army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
  • 1954 – The CIA overthrows Guatemala’s president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (Operation PBSUCCESS)
  • 1954 – Saint Lawrence Seaway ACTH, permitting the construction of the system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, is approved
  • 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark decision of the Supreme Court, declares state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional
  • 1954 – The U.S. becomes a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (or SEATO) alliance
  • 1954 – Geneva Conference. U.S. rejects the French decision to recognize Communist control of North Vietnam. U.S. increases aid to South Vietnam.
  • 1954 – The People’s Republic of China lays siege on Quemoy and Matsu Islands; Eisenhower sends in Navy to demonstrate an invasion of Taiwan would not be permitted
  • 1954 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at an all-time high of 382.74, the first time the Dow has surpassed its peak level reached just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929
  • 1954 – NBC airs The Tonight Show, the first late-night talk show, originally hosted by Steve Allen
  • 1954 – The Democrats retake both houses of Congress in the Midterms. Will keep the Senate until 1981 and the House until 1994.

Here’s a screen shot of a North Carolina newspaper on the day I was born. Not where I lived then or now, but interesting just the same. Of course, perusing the papers also reminded me of the state of civil rights at the time – and in some places today, we seemed to have regressed. From Chronicling America:

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I just received a video call from my daughter’s family as they sang happy birthday to me. It was so sweet. My almost three year old granddaughter and I have learned to “play” virtually, so it was quite a lively call.

Hubby cooked and cleaned the kitchen all day on Mother’s Day. We have a few of his fancy high-end pancakes left over that we will warm up for breakfast. No big plans here, so just so grateful for the blessing of another year.

birthdays, Blog

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Today is my father’s birthday. I miss his sense of humor and his wise counsel. When I see how many people live well into their 90s (my dad would be 93 today) I feel a certain longing I cannot adequately put into words. To think I could have had him in my life another 28 years seems unfathomable. To think he would have met all six of my grandchildren and all of his great-grandchildren is overwhelming. I wonder how lives might have been altered had he been a continued presence in our lives. But those are idle wishes of a daughter still missing her father after all these years.

Dad was not perfect by any means. I know that and he knew that. Still, he was such an important force in my life. It is his advice that rings in my ears even today. Perhaps he was not special to everyone, but to me he was everything.

My Dad always had hope. Even in the worst of times, he believed things could be better. I am not here to talk about those times — not here, not yet, not on his birthday. I am here to celebrate a once in a lifetime relationship that I know not all people experience. I wonder what he would have to say about the current world situation? He was a man of extreme faith and I think it saw him through a lot. I think he would have found hope and comfort that many of us are searching for.

DadDad had the deepest voice, a loud belly laugh and an infectious smile. He was lighthearted when he wanted to be and stoic when the situation required it. I miss him terribly — on this day especially.

So, Dad, Happy Birthday. You are never far from my thoughts. I still talk to you. I tell you about your six great-grandchildren. They would have loved you. From almost three to eighteen and ready to take on the world, they are quite the crew.

I know you knew how much I loved you and I knew how much you loved me. There was never a question of that in either of us. In so many ways, I wish you were here even if just for a chat on the phone and to sing Happy Birthday. All you ever wanted for any of us was love, health and happiness.

I hope we make you proud.

birthdays, Blog, daughter

Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Day 289

Today is my daughter’s birthday — my first born. It was her arrival into this world that made me a mom and it was living my life with her that made me a better mom. Now as a grandmother, I appreciate so much all the intangible gifts we have given each other.

We have so many great shared memories. As a little girl she was fearless in so many ways. She loved people and was always a delight to everyone she met. I see the same traits in her daughter now, and seeing her with her little girl has filled me up more than I ever knew possible.

When she was little, she would see smoke or fog or steam and would exclaim “peanut butter sandwiches” with such glee. I could never understand this because she was so well spoken. It made no sense.

One day, we were home watching TV when Sesame Street came on. She was transfixed as usual. I happened to look up just as the character The Amazing Mumford (a magician) waved his magic wand and exclaimed “Ala Peanut Butter Sandwiches” as a huge puff of smoke appeared. Mystery solved.

She was quite precocious in many ways. One morning as I walked her to her babysitter’s house, we encountered the trash men. She waved and said “Good morning. Do you want to come to my house and see my mommy?” They chuckled as I tried to hide my red face. Years later she would tell me she was simply trying to do her part in getting me out of a bad marriage. What a kid.

We have seen each other through some tough times, but those times fade quickly in the light of the hundreds of beautiful moments we have shared. To say I am blessed seems a pale definition to the love we have for each other.

What can you say on the 44th birthday that has not already been said over the years? Maybe nothing new, but definitely words that carry a depth of meaning not possible without the experiences and memories we have shared.

I love you means my heart is so full of love I fear it may burst.

I am proud of you means you have blossomed into a phenomenal woman.

You are a wonderful mom means the love I have for you brings me to my knees when I see how much you love your daughter.

I miss you means the distance is difficult but to see you living a fulfilled life makes me the happiest mom alive.

So, little girl, maybe I have said it before. Every year it means more. More love, more trust, more respect, more happiness, more honesty and more honor that I was chosen to be your mom.

Happy Birthday, my little girl. The years have flown by and I have loved each and every moment. May this just be the beginning of many more wonderful times to come.

I lu lu.

birthdays, Blog, Family, sister

Happy Birthday, Sis

Day 278

Today is my sister’s birthday. I have thought about her all week knowing her birthday was coming up. It is still hard not having her here physically, but I feel her spirit everywhere. I am not sure I will ever get over missing her, but I try to focus on the joy that celebrating her life brings to me.

My sister was a spitfire. Very politically minded and very family-centric. She never met a stranger. There was always someone who had fallen on hard times living with her family. Both my sisters had that trait. I always used to kid them and tell them I was born without the ‘come live with me gene‘! She would literally give you the shirt off her back.

She loved a debate. Especially concerning the two things most people try to avoid — religion and politics. She called them like she saw them and would argue her point until her last breath.

When the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky debacle was revealed, my sister always wanted to see Hillary throw Bill’s clothes on the White House lawn. Of course that would never really happen, but that’s how she said she would have responded.

Political news was her drug of choice. She would watch C-SPAN any time she could. I could never argue with her — she was well armed with knowledge and had a proclivity toward the politics in our country. She could tell you anything you wanted to know about Watergate and she always thought Ted Kennedy should have gone to prison for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

For me, however, she was my big sister. Our relationship ebbed and flowed over the years, and thankfully we were really close in the years preceding her death. I look at this photo of her on Easter morning. She sat on the porch beside my grandfather ready to take on any challenge. When I think of her, my heart always remembers her this way. Dark hair, happy-go-lucky, and full of a zest for life. This brings me great joy.

There is a great sadness in losing someone you love. Grief can be a viscous taskmaster, but if we allow it to run its course, there is great joy in remembering their life rather than their death. I am so thankful I have reached this point. There is a lot of love, joy and memories in sixty years. She was much more than her death.

I am forever grateful knowing she was my sister and my friend.

birthdays, Blog, loss, sister

My Sister’s Birthday

Day 137

67. That’s how old you would be today. We would have already talked but I know you would not be focused on your birthday. Not today. Your heart would be elsewhere.

My Sister

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One of my Favorite Pictures of You

Not all sisters get along which makes me even more thankful. Your love and support were all that kept me afloat during certain times of my life as I know my love and support were for you. That’s what sisters do.

I was determined to celebrate you today, to cheat grief out of a day. It’s hard. There would never have been enough days but I wanted more. We both did.

I think in some ways you tried to prepare me for a time without you but you did a shitty job with that.

I do celebrate the love and the memories — there were so many but why does it still feel they are lacking?

I can feel that I’m not doing well at celebrating. Grief is trying to win, but then so am I.

Ta-Da.

My Friend

This was a role you took seriously and you were damned good at it. There are many people who should take a page from your book.

Friendships are living and breathing relationships. Yes, you were my sister, but you were also always my friend.

With you, things were never one-sided. It was give-and-take. If you had not heard from me in an acceptable timeframe, you called me. Sometimes I would turn inward and close up, but you were not about to have any of that. I never had to cry alone — until now.

turtleSo many people don’t understand that two-lane highway of friendship. With you, it was a curvy country road. Sometimes there were no lines on the road and no road signs. That’s when you just felt your way. And sometimes you needed to cross the center line when I was about to fall off the cliff — oncoming traffic be damned. And when the road was just too difficult to maneuver, there was always a place to pull over and just be.

And if there was a turtle crossing that road, it must be rescued! I was the turtle more times than I like to admit.

Anger

There is still anger. There are things I am not over. It’s hard to know if you would have been right there with me or if you would be telling me to just let it go.

My daughter called this morning to see how I was doing. We talked about anger and unresolved thoughts. She suggested I call on Mr. Rogers. So here you go.

Video courtesy of YouTube

Moving Forward Without You

It’s almost been three years. It is not easy. I am thankful your voice is still clear in my mind.

I love you and I miss you. That will never change.

Happy Birthday, Sis. I hope somewhere, somehow and in some way you know your little sister is here still loving you and missing you just like always.