Sunday 04 Dec 2016

A Dear Lady's Birthday
AJ Robinson

Many times, people forget about celebrating a birthday as they get older. After all, who wants to be reminded of how old they are? Yet, a birthday is an important aspect of a person's life, and should be cherished; we never know how many more we have. These days, what with political correctness, people often no longer say they are so-many-years old; it's, they are so-many-years-young. Goodness, what does that say about people that we're so afraid to admit we're getting older?

Just recently, Betsy, a friend of ours, helped her grandmother Betty celebrate her 95th birthday. They held it at the dear lady's home, where she still lived alone, and the whole family was there; some even flew in from out of state to be there. She was such a sweet old gal, well below five feet tall, and probably not even ninety pounds - soaking wet! Yet, she was a giant of a woman; bound and determined to continue living alone - in her own house - and she loved working in her garden. Hers was one of the older homes in Orlando, a modest size, or a good sized lot, and right on a lake. She had both a flower garden and a vegetable garden, and she worked on them every day; they were her pride and joy - besides her family, of course.

Betsy and her three children were there for the party, and the two oldest told their great-grandmother of their plans for the future. One was in college, and the other was preparing to apply to MIT and other technical school. Oh, he was going to work with robotics, one day; he told her proudly. Betty was bound and determined to help them in their schooling, for a very important reason. Many years before, she had not been allowed any formal schooling - as she was just a girl, and her brother had had to turn down a full college scholarship! As the family had so many children, he'd had to stay home to help support the family. Without his income, the little ones would have been without food. So, Grandma Betty knew the value of an education, and she was going to do everything she could to help her great-grandchildren live up to their full potential.

Her son was also at the birthday party, and that made Betty particularly happy. Years before, he'd been trampled by a bucking bronco during a rodeo, and some said he would never walk again. That he recovered meant a lot to her. No mother can ever bear to see their child suffer.

It was a birthday with all the proper trappings; funny how we seem to make the birthdays at the start and end of our lives the special ones, and very much alike. The family joked that they couldn't put the right number of candles on the cake. It was too small to hold them all, and besides, the heat would drive them all back. Even Grandma Betty joked that it would set off her smoke alarms. Ah, such a great sense of humor. So, they put a big 9 and 5 on the cake, and Betty blew them out.

It was a wonderful birthday; everyone had an especially good time, and it meant a lot to them to give Betty a good time. The presents meant nothing. After all, at her age, what could they give her that she didn't already have? When looking back over the course of her life, you could see that it encompassed most of the Twentieth Century. Think of all the dear lady had seen: two world wars, television, computers, the Cold War, the moon landing, and so much more. And she got to see her family grow up, and enjoy their own lives.

She passed away three months later.

A lesson to us all; a birthday is never merely a birthday, but a day to cherish and share with those we love - just like every day of our lives.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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