Must Be a Birthday
Debbie Arnold of DiningWithDebbie
family broke the record when it came to April birthdays. There’s my crazy
cousin Libby (don’t worry; I call her that to her face), Uncle Raymond, Libby’s
my niece Tonia;
and there’s Ryan, and Seth, and Kyle – all brothers whose mother just happens
to be crazy-you-know-who.
mom whose birthday fell on April 15, tax day, bless her heart.
who live around the world in places like Guam and Australia that you’ve mostly never met except
to exchange birthday greetings. They may
seem like strangers, but they’re not.
They’re family. Nothing breaks
those ties that bind here in the South.
not forget Cousin Chaz’s hubby Nick and their daughter — they belong in April
cousins twice and triple removed and far too numerous to mention lest you get
slap-dab bored and leave before I get around to the real birthday story.
see, my dad turned 90 years old on April 12. Yes, ninety. The big
Nine O. In my mind, that’s a pretty big deal. And a reason to celebrate.
seven, and is one of two still living. When he quit school in the 8th grade it
was to go to work and join the Army and become a man. He’s. a veteran two
times over, most of which he won’t talk about even to this day. Many who
know him would say he’s a self-educated man. He’s loyal and
faithful and honest and he loves his family. For the most part, he
survived, relatively unscathed, the tribulations of raising two daughters born
five years apart which, of course, means puberty hung around our household for
quite a long time.
introduced four great grandsons and one great granddaughter into his life, most
of whom came to help him celebrate his special day. What made it even
more special was that he shared his celebration with his great granddaughter,
my granddaughter, who is another of those April birthday babies.
Only she’s turning seven, not double-digit ninety — a span of 83 years made
incredibly small by the bond of family.
genuine and caring as they come. When asked, she’ll tell you that she
wants to be a mommy and a cheerleader. She leaves most sports to her
big brother whom she adores, although she’ll take you on at tennis or swimming
any day. She’ll entertain you with violin or piano recitals and meet any
challenge given to her in gymnastics. Curly headed like her momma and
Nana, she sometimes prefers pigtails over bows and is just fine with that.
PG doesn’t get to spend much time with her great grandfather. The
distance between and the demands of what just is makes it a two to three times
a year encounter. And when you’re 6, the grasping of all that lineage,
who is who, and how they came to be family, is just not something to be
understood or remembered. Except you can just know that it’s family, and
that it is important for you to know that.
90, and not because it was her birthday as well, she came to celebrate.
She came to craft birthday cards, to set the tables, to align the forks and
plates just so, to fill the cups with ice or center the plates of food properly
on the serving tables as only she can do. To help because being helpful
is something she enjoys
the hand and help him cut his birthday cake because birthday cakes are very
important. When you’re 6 or even when you’re 90, they’re important.
And they are even more important when you get to pick the color (pink, of
course) and the flavor (strawberry, of course) with real chocolate-covered
fruit (strawberries, of course) because you just know in your heart of hearts
that pink and strawberry are absolutely what Pa wants for HIS birthday cake.
And, as usual, she was right. Pa, had he been given the choice, would
have most certainly made those very same choices.
well because. That’s what families do when they come together across the
miles of time and space to share in celebrations of lives well spent and lives
becoming. It’s what is important whether you’re 90 or 7. It’s a hug
and a smile and a knowing that you are loved.
I get to spend part of my birthday weekend with my Papa. I think I might hug him a little harder after this one! Thank you Debbie.