As birthdays go, this 61 was pretty much a bust. My first one as a not so gay divorcee was well unremarkable, literally. And please look up the actual way that term was coined decades ago. It had nothing to do with being a lesbian.
Even a pissed off soon to be ex husband will get you a card and some flowers on your birthday and force the kids to sign the card, even if they do fail to find a card that is actually for someone’s mother on a few occasions. This year my two were left to their own devices. My younger son got me a nice and thoughtful Mom card. Even though he has more money stashed away than some adults I know, it didn’t come with a gift. My older son gave new meaning to “it’s the thought that counts,” cause that is about all he did do. He thought about a card. He never did actually translate it into action. I mentioned that the inheritance scales were tipping and not in his favor either. He then proclaimed that he was anti-greetings cards. Something about how they are not something he can subscribe too in good conscience. I didn’t know you could be a conscientious objector to greeting cards. Is there some province of Canada set aside for kids fleeing the States where it’s a Hallmark free zone? Scales still tipping. Still not in his favor.
I looked at my card clothesline and it was like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, a bit bare this year. It is a string that I have had hanging in my house since I had my first kid 21 years ago. It is above our heads and spans the length of our dining room/den and it is where we hung the greeting cards all year long. We began with Valentine’s Day as I used to get and give cards before it became a hostile holiday in our house. Then we moved to Easter and always there were cards from my mother and mother in law. These women knew the value and the love and the touch that went into the sending of greeting cards. These Hallmark moms never missed a holiday for their offspring and grand offspring. Our family birthday greeting card barrages began in earnest in April with my older son’s birthday, followed six days later by mine. Those cards came down at Mother’s Day and then husband’s birthday at end of May followed close behind. We took that set down in June after the Father’s Day cards arrived. Yes, they always were Dad cards and no, I never bought a to whom it may concern card for him, much as I may have liked to at times.
We took the summer off with a bare string hanging for July, August and September. The string, like our home, came to life again in October for the birthday of our younger son. Those cards we admired until the few Hallmark Moms’ Thanksgiving cards arrived followed by the biggest card windfall of all, Christmas!! The string was filled all through December and some of January and as was our home with joy for many years back then.
This year my string was not very filled. My older son turned 21 so there are a few for him hanging but my birthday left a little to be desired. No more daughter-in-law-card of course because I am no longer one. No daughter card because it would have to come from across the grave. I did receive two very special ones from my two dear friends and for that I thank them. I loved my friend Sandi’s card about us being ‘twins’ and musical soul sisters as she said we are. My friend Patty’s card touched my heart because it was not a birthday card but rather a thank you card for my energy and my event planning. I hate the fact that Facebook has robbed Hallmark of their card business. I looked at my string and wondered how it would look if the 126 people who posted a happy birthday comment on my page would have sent a card. I know, in this day and age, we are all too busy to take the time to read and write and ponder a sentiment. But busy doing what is the real question, I suspect.
The birthday cake- the one we did not let them eat this year. I didn’t do one for me despite my superstition that everyone in our family HAD to have a cake ON the actual date of their birthday regardless of what else was being done, party wise. I didn’t do it this year. Too busy I guess doing who knows what. I spent the day wandering about. No dinner out. Even my business partner in town for a paint job apologized for ignoring my birthday. My brother in law who is the biggest part of the family apologized two days later for forgetting it altogether as his phone lost its birthday calendar. Are you enjoying my birthday pity party yet? I wandered down for an hour to Ports of Call Restaurant to see my favorite musicians play. Even the staff at that restaurant failed to bring out the cupcake that the California Cupcake (Renee, the singer’s nickname) ordered so they could sing to me at the end of the night. But sing they did anyway and it was so appreciated of course. It’s hilarious this lack of birthday this year. Now don’t get me wrong, I was never one to celebrate my birthdays much at all but the firsts of everything in the grief process are the worsts and the irony is not lost in this worst of my first divorced birthdays. I did end the evening though with my Curb Crew, where the Larry David fans converge once a week. That always cheers me up!!
Unfortunately, though, my cake superstition may have something to it. I awoke the day after my birthday with the worst unexplained vertigo. So what do I do now? Should I bake a cake today to ward off the evil cakeless spirits? Will that count if it’s like three days after my birthday? I don’t know. But I did mention this all to my sister when I went to New York a few days later. She had the waiter at Captains Pizzeria in the Bronx bring me out a lovely tiramisu with a candle in it and she and my two friends and the rest of the restaurant lunch crowd actually sang Happy Birthday again! I hope this cake counts!! New things must replace the old and the eternal optimist in me thinks it will be just fine anyway. I love my kids and my friends and I do appreciate the time all those people took to write me a Facebook birthday post. I just wish I could hang them on my string.