…random memories about random birthdays that came to mind...randomly
VAGUE—It’s not even my own memory, but I’ve been told I once said only people wearing a jumper with two pockets could attend my party. I have no idea when this happened, but it sounds true. To this day I favor clothing with pockets. I like to have someplace to stick a tissue, a glasses cleaning cloth, and an occasional note to self.
SWEET—I turned thirteen around the same time a friend, John, turned fourteen. His parents invited me along on the family’s outing to Central Park. I remember making spin art and holding John’s hand in the zoo. Or, am I confusing John with Pete at the pep rally? Ah, the innocence of ephemeral young love...
SURPRISE—My junior year of high school was my favorite. A group of about sixteen kids ate together every day on the upper level of the cafeteria. (When the new gym was built, the old gym became the cafeteria and the bleachers became a balcony claimed by upper classmen.) My good friend John (not Central Park John), in a gently mocking way, called us “the Billy Graham for lunch bunch.” (Yes, he was mocking me.)
That year each of us had a surprise party. I thought mine was going to be at Cathy’s house, since she had invited me to sleep over. But that was a ploy to get me out of my house long enough to set up. My sister Taffy called to tell me I’d forgotten my pajamas or something; I knew then I had to hightail it home to attend my sweet sixteen party.
I still have two gifts from that birthday: Pam’s dad worked at the American Bible Society in NYC, and she gave me a French Bible; it’s in the bookcase next to my bed. I also received a blue felt wall hanging featuring Snoopy surrounded by rabbits; the caption reads, “Happiness is loving your enemies.” It hangs on the wall of my classroom.
HARMONY—Either my junior or senior year of college, I was the only girl present in Greek class on October 9. (Lucy, the other girl enrolled, should have been there. Was she sick? I don’t remember.) At any rate, I enjoyed the serenade of an all male chorus of ministerial students. When you hear those rich voices, you understand why “God created them male and female.” (There may be other reasons, which will not be discussed in today’s blog. Or ever.)
CAKE—My mother-in-law Dot always baked me a cake and invited the family for a meal on my birthday. She also slipped some cash into a card, cash that I could guiltlessly spend on myself, a rare commodity in the days of raising my boys in the church parsonage.
GIRLS OF OCTOBER—Most of the staff at WCA were born in October. This puzzled me, and I pondered what event had occurred nine months before October. Oh, Valentine’s Day. (As my students would say, “Eww.” No one wants to think about her parents on Valentine’s Day.)
That still doesn’t explain how or why God brought us all together, but I’m glad he did. One memorable October found several of us celebrating at a spacious beach house in OCNJ…which seemed much less spacious the next October when we brought the rest of the staff and pretty much anybody who wanted to come.
2013—I hope to commemorate my 60th birthday in Jerusalem. Or Tel Aviv. Or Nazareth. Or Masada. I’m not fussy, just so long as I’m somewhere in the motherland on October 9. Former teaching colleague Janet plans to come with me. Anyone else game?
Since my mother died of ovarian cancer before her 58th birthday, I set year 60 as my goal for the long desired pilgrimage. This summer I saw my cousin Derek’s photographs of our grandparents’ tombstones, and I learned I come from a long line of women who died young.
David wrote in Psalm 139, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (New Living Translation) So far I’ve lived about six months longer than my mom, but according to this psalm, the length of my life is ultimately not up to me. (I do cooperate with God by getting regular health screenings and eating salads.)
Maybe I’ll make it to Jerusalem in 2013. If not, I can look forward to the New Jerusalem. And I do hope to see you there.