Sunday, March 26, 2023

Celebrate GOOD TIMES...C'MON!

This past week has been filled with days of celebrating reaching the age of 65. And I have to say it has been a great time and so much less trauma on my brain and body than celebrating other birthdays over the years. It kind of amazes me at how celebrating changes over time. I kind of am reminded of several birthdays and the celebrations over the past decades that have brought me to this week’s celebrations.

I remember as a pretty little kid, my mom would have a couple of the neighborhood kids over and we would have hot dogs and chips and birthday cake. The only thing I remember was having to dress up in a party dress, rufflly and lacy like. And no doubt my hair would be all brushed and shiny and wavy with probably some ringlets along the sides. I was the only one in the neighborhood with super curly hair and my mom was a beautician who gave all the other little girls perms right before the Christmas or Easter holiday. I hated that part, but the other girls would come to the house looking the same way. Only they never looked as uncomfortable as I felt. They would have their hair all curled and be in frilly party dresses and black patent leather shoes. Yes I am really dating myself at the moment. But we all looked pretty amazing for the times…I guess.

Once I turned 13 or 14, my mom and my friend down the street got together and planned a surprise party for me. I didn’t have a clue what was happening. I came home one day and there was my friend sitting at the kitchen table with my mom. What the heck? My mom made some excuse as my friend was leaving and I just forgot all about it. 

Imagine my surprise when I came home a week later to a house full of grade school friends yelling surprise! My brother had been instructed to take me out shopping. I never saw that party coming. And to this day I still don’t know how my mom  pulled it off. She was not the best secret keeper in the world. But it was a memorable night for me.

And then there was turning 18. Back then the Minnesota laws for adulthood were 18. So drinking became legal. My 2 best friends at the time were Mike and Bob. We were all now officially 18 and decided to go out to a local bar and drink together. But before that Mike and I had been invited over for a fancy Mexican meal that our friend was giving. She had just returned from Mexico and was excited to share her stories. So we started there first and would meet up after with Bob.

My friend had bought a beautiful copper pitcher while in Mexico and had decided to make lemonade in it to go with the shredded beef tacos. What we didn’t know back then is that the acid from lemons reacts with copper and will get a person sicker than any night out drinking will ever do! Mike and I both drank a couple big glasses of the delicious poison.

We got done eating and Bob showed up and off we went to a bar called the Cabooze. The place was packed and the music loud. The three of us went up and showed our ID’s and each ordered a beer. The intent seriously was not to get drunk, but to just say we finally went out for a drink together legally. There had been many times before that we had drank “illegally” together in our teenage years.

We no sooner got our beers and I started feeling like my stomach was going to explode or worse just keep rising up like a volcano. I didn’t want to say anything to spoil the night, but one look at Mike and I could see he was getting super pale and losing interest in the evening. Meanwhile, Bob was just drinking his beer and watching all the people. I made the comment that I’d be right back and raced off to the bathroom.

I just made it to the bathroom and flung my head over the toilet and heaved what felt like, my entire guts out. I got all clammy and everything sounded far away…like right before a person passes out. I just half stood and half draped myself over the toilet with my head hanging ready to go for round two. 

By the time I was ready to leave the bathroom, I knew it would not be the last time I would be embracing that porcelain Queen of Barf-holding. I ran out of there and ran right into Mike who was coming from the men’s room. We looked at each other and then kind of held on to each other as we made our way back to the bar. There was Bob sitting and drinking his 2nd beer, feeling just fine. He took a look at us and he knew we were on our way out the door. And that was my first recollection of legal drinking with my friends. We both moaned and groaned all the way home and later found out it was the lemonade in a copper pitcher that almost killed us that night.

Birthdays in my 20’s are pretty much a blur. With 4 kids, all ages 5 and under, life was a bit crazy and filled with sliding across the floor barefoot on grapes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My biggest  celebrations were not forgetting a kid at the park, (although we did forget our youngest in a car seat on the kitchen table as we got in the car to go on a camping trip). Those birthdays are remembered by homemade gifts from little hands and a promise of my Best Half to sit outside the bathroom and field questions from the little ones, while I took a leisurely bath and shaved my legs without needing band-aids afterwards.

Time flew by and by the time I turned 40, the kids were teen-agers and were able to help plan a surprise bash for me over at our friends’ house. I once again didn’t have a clue and was surprised beyond belief when we pulled up to our friends’ house. There were cars all over the place and I figured they were having people over. We were just stopping by to pick something up…or so I thought. 

Imagine my surprise when as we were walking in, I started noticing cars that looked just like our families and friends' cars. Right on down to the bumper stickers. It wasn’t until I walked into the house and saw 30-40 people I knew! That was another huge surprise I will always remember. Entering my 40’s turned out being a good time.

As long as I am scanning birthdays over the decades, I’d be lying if I said turning 60 was fun. While it wasn’t an enlightening or joyous occasion, all I can say is I survived, even with my thoughts of gloom and doom for the first year in my 60’s. I hung on to the thought that my parents died at age 59 and 60 and many memories of their health and deterioration played tapes in my brain. I kind of lived a little in fear of dying.

It wasn’t until I woke up one day and told myself just because they died young doesn’t mean I have to carry on that thing from the family tree. I decided then and there I was going to saw off that branch of the family tree and live my life and try to reach age 92, like my grandma did. And then when that time comes, I will review life and see where I’m at. It truly did make for a better way to think through this aging stuff.

So here I am week one of age 65 and the celebrations are still happening. The day of my birthday I woke up and jumped (or maybe more like hobbled) out of bed to greet the new day! It was not snowing and the sun was even peaking through the clouds.

 What did I do on my birthday? I hung out with my Best Friend and Best Half. We had breakfast together, did some things around the house and he made supper for us. Some would say it was just another day, but it really felt pretty special to me. My Best Half made me the main focus of his day, the kids and grandkids called throughout the day and I had a big bowl of ice cream that night. It was a perfect day for my actual  birthday.

The next few days are plans with a few different friends to meet for lunch. It seems now that we are retired, meeting for lunch on a weekday is so much more appealing than meeting at a crowded place on a weekend. We can grab a quiet seat and sit for a while and catch up. We get to take the path less traveled by the rest of the working world. These are some of my best times with friends. A chance to relive moments past, talk about life now and think about the future. And it’s always a time of some good laughs and possibly a few tears thrown in. 

While so many birthdays have flown by unremembered, there are still a few 
that will go down in the books as some of the best or at least most memorable. I have come to see birthdays  like milepost markers along the path of our lives. But unlike the milepost markers on the paved roads that are pounded into the ground on the side of the road and waiting for us to blast by at a precise time and distance, these markers are left lying by the wayside waiting for us to show up and plant that marker into the ground and hold on to it for a fleeting moment like a prize. I guess I have come to think, it is all about how we approach our milestones. Will it be running, walking, crawling or something else? It’s all up to each one of us how we want to handle our milepost markers.

Right now,for me, I’m going to be hanging out for a bit at milepost marker 65 and taking in the sites.  Have a good week everyone!

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