Showing posts with label Birthdays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthdays. Show all posts

Friday, November 2, 2018


[I first published this blog post in March of 2015 in honor of my sister's birthday.  At that time I had no idea that just a few years later she would be gone. I am sad to say that my sister died on October 25th (2018) at the age of 79 but in honor of her birthday, I wanted to republish this post to honor her once again.  She was a remarkable woman who is sorely missed]

Think about it. For good or ill, your parents and your older siblings have known you longer than anyone else in the world. 

Whether you had a good experience or a bad experience growing up, your family members were major players in your life. I was fortunate to have a wonderful family. 

Growing up, I didn't appreciate them at the time, of course.  I complained about them when I didn't get my way or "they didn't understand me." But deep down I was proud of them too.  And woe to anyone who said anything bad about anyone in my family.  I could complain about them, but you as hell better not. 

Few of us, though, appreciate what we have when we have it. But looking back and in relation to what I know now, I had a great family.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for the last couple of years, you know that I use birthdays as a springboard to remember. 

And I like to share pictures because they help me to remember.  It's fun going through the albums looking for appropriate photographs.  I always think of my Dad and how much he enjoyed taking our pictures.  He always had the latest camera and when I look at these pictures, I see what a good photographer he was, posing us just so.  Don't think I didn't hate it at the time, but I am so glad I have these photos now.

But I also share these pictures here, because I hope that they will spark something in you, too, to remember happy times with your family and to remind you that in the end we are all the same, we all want to be a part of something, we are all part of something, we are all one.  And that as the cycle of life unwinds, when we come to the end of the tether, we have our memories.

So now I celebrate my sister's birthday.

She was my only sister and my older sister - nine years older.  So can you imagine, there she was the only girl and actually the only child for five years until my brother came along.  But then nine years later, there I was -- another girl, her sister.

Being the oldest has its benefits but also its negatives. 

Like I said, she had our parents all to herself for five years and even when my brother was born, she was the only girl.  Being the oldest allows you a certain amount of authority and I think the first child remains the favorite. 

But in our house, there were some indignities to endure such as having  to share her room with a baby (me).  For as long as my sister lived at home, she had to share her bedroom with me. Think of a 16 year old having to share a bedroom with a seven year old.

I can remember nights when she came home from a date and I was sleeping peacefully and she would switch on the light to get ready for bed and I would howl with indignity.  So on the one hand, she could have been a bit more considerate of the little sleeping angel (me), but I also didn't need to make such a fuss (the devil in me).  A bit of passive aggression in there, wouldn't you say?

She also had to babysit, put up with me hanging around when she brought boyfriends home and listen to me whine about stuff, as little ones often do.

I was a bit of a scamp!

But the best thing about being the oldest, I think, is the prestige and the awe that is felt by the younger ones, especially when the oldest is nine years older. I see my little four year old grandson being followed around by his two year old brother, the two year old wanting to do everything that the four year old is doing.  I was in awe of my sister and very proud of her.

She was popular in school.  Was invited into the exclusive sorority-like club at the high school,

played in the orchestra (she played the violin and the viola)

and since you can't play the string instruments in the band, she was the flag bearer in the marching band. 

She was also an athlete and excelled in tennis.

My Dad started playing with her, but soon she was better than he was and went on to play in tournaments.  There is a story in the family that she went to the local public tennis courts, she was told she couldn't practice because there was a tournament going on.  She went right home that day and told our Dad that she would go back and win that tournament.  And she did.  She went on to a college that specialized in tennis.  She went to the Nationals and became a tennis professional and is in the college's and our home town's halls of fame.

My sister went off to college when I was only 8 and basically I rarely saw her again. Well, you know, she never lived at home again. When she did come home, I remember her regaling me about college and telling me that if you just did what you were supposed to do, you got a C. If you wanted a B or an A, you had to do way more than expected.  Scared me to death.

Because my sister was into sports, I realized I wasn't (and psychologically I probably didn't want to have to compete with her in that area), so I veered off into acting.  But I ended up going to the same college and let's just say that when I took tennis it was embarrassing as hell to be reminded by the coach, who remembered my sister, that I couldn't hit the ball to save my life.

My sister got married right out of college and I was in the wedding party.  I was 12 and demanded a tiara, which I got (I was the baby after all, which also has its perks!).

I remember crying after the wedding when her husband and she left, moving far away. 

I finally left home too.

Long story short, I ended up on one coast, she on another. 

As the years went by, she had children and grandchildren, 

as did I.

and as the vagaries of life took hold, she lived on her own. 

But she visited me,

took care of our mother,

taught tennis as a Master Professional and became a Miata enthusiast.

We traveled together (we shared one of my favorite vacations of all time on a narrow boat in England),

and she battled and survived cancer until she didn't. 

Life has a way of coming between relationships.  They take a backseat to life's demands.

But despite the years, despite the age difference, despite the miles, one thing I always knew for sure.  My sister was just a phone call away and she would always be there for me, because she was my older sister.

I had known her longer than anyone alive.

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." - Unknown

Take a Little Time to Remember.

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday


"Bohemian Rhapsody"


The Week in Reviews

as well as

and the latest on


"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before


I Die Project."

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thank You Notes to My Dad

Last Sunday was my Dad's birthday. 

He would have been 107 had he lived.  He always said he would live to be a 100 and I think he would have had he not refused treatment for his treatable cancer.

With family members strewn all over the country and other family members no longer with us, I use birthdays as a time to remember the person.  But I also especially like to reflect on my parents and those who came before me.  I am a firm believer in the fact that you need to know where you have been to know who you are.

You know that bit that Jimmy Fallon does on the Tonight Show on Friday nights where he writes humorous thank you notes?  I thought I would celebrate my Dad's birthday by writing him some thank you notes.

Thank you, Dad...for your sense of humor.

I remember your silly jokes - usually silly knock-knock jokes.  Nothing off color. You would deliver the punch line and then chuckle at how funny you thought it was. You also had a sense of humor about yourself.  I think I got that from you.  And I remember lots of laughter.

And you always wanted to be a cowboy.

Thank you, Dad...for your musical talent.

You played trumpet in a dance band for most of your life, but you could also play almost any instrument and transcribed all of the music for the dance band you were in.  I had a brief stint in musical comedy so whatever musical talent I have came from you and has been passed on to my daughter.

Thank you, Dad...for being so smart and imaginative.

Whenever there was a problem or a need, you came up with a solution. You were an inventor of all kinds of things. Mom said you actually invented the "sippy cup" before it came out commercially. My sister was ready to drink out of a cup but needed something between the bottle and a cup and you invented a "sippy cup" for her. Mom always lamented your business sense, that you didn't patent it.

Thank you, Dad...for your positive attitude.

You were always a positive, upbeat influence which probably explains why I have always been drawn to positive people. Whenever we were sick or down, you knew just what to say, and people would come to you for advice. You delighted in all kinds of things from hats for my Mom, lamps for the house and your big passion, big American cars.  So many things delighted you and made you happy.  You would find out about something and exclaim, "Imagine that!"

Thank you, Dad...for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

If I made an offhand remark that I wanted a particular coat or if I admired something in a store window, I would probably get it as a gift at my next birthday or at Christmas.  You were really great that way and loved to surprise people.  When I would bring my children to visit, you would have baseball cards for my son or a doll for my daughter.  And you never let us leave without giving us "a couple of bucks."

Thank you, Dad...for being a great father.

  • You were not just generous with money and gifts, you were generous with your time, attention and encouragement. 
  • You were self sacrificing, so we could have a good life. Not to mention, you always let me have the car and would even walk to work if I promised my friends I could have the car.
  • You were sensitive to our needs and wants.
  • You helped to create a stable home.
  • You encouraged your children to be what they wanted to be, to do what they needed to do. When I moved out to California right after college graduation, you gave me "a couple of bucks" and wished me well.  You didn't question it or try to stop me, despite how hard it must have been to know how far away I would be (though later you expressed admiration that I had the courage to do it). 
  • You let me go to live my life and make my own mistakes.


Thank you, Dad...for your genes.

Because of you I am looking forward to a long life. 

Your Dad, who was born in 1874 (I can't believe my own grandfather was born in 1874) lived to be 98 and your mother 89, despite the fact she had diabetes all of her life and went blind in her 50's. My older sister and brother are still alive too (however, my Dad did not drink or smoke, so I might have screwed everything up with that).

And you live on, Dad, as those good genes are passed on from generation to generation. 

Here you are as a baby in 1908.

Here is your little grandson in 2014.

Over 100 years separate these two pictures and you died 22 years before this little grandson was born, yet you are still here.
You live on in the faces of those who came after you.

But you live on, too, as your gifts are passed on. You set an example for your children. Hopefully, we have your sense of humor, especially about ourselves, your talents, your smarts, your positive attitude, your thoughtfulness and generosity, your sensitivity and self sacrifice, that we too are good parents and pass it on.
As I think about my Dad, I can't help but think about myself as a parent now, knowing what I know. I certainly wish my Dad was still here so I could ask him some things. I wonder what he and my mother were thinking and feeling as their children went through all of the ups and downs of their lives. They were always there when I needed them but they let me live my life, warts and all.

As Bob Dylan said, "Take care of your memories.  For you cannot relive them."

I hope you will take some time to remember a loved one and where you came from.

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday
when I will be reviewing

"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
as well as some
DVD's to see or avoid

and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"My Son"

Today is my son's 34th birthday.

I look at birthdays as a good time for memories, because when your children are adults and they live far away, your memories are mostly what you have.

These are mine.


On the left, I am posing at my baby shower at work toward the end of my pregnancy.

First of all, try not to focus on the ensemble.  I am not responsible for that.  There were not a lot of fashion choices for pregnant women in the 80's.  However, I will have to take total responsibility for the glasses and the hair.

I don't mind how I look in the picture (above) with my son because I swear, I lost 30 pounds right after he was born.

The day of my son's birth, I worked a full eight hour day.  I had to.  My husband was in school,didn't have a job and I was the sole source of income and we had just bought a house.  I can remember worrying every time I went to the doctor that something would be wrong, and he would say I had to stay home.  I had worked out my vacation and sick leave to the day, so that I had just enough to allow me to take off six weeks but that meant I had to go all the way to my due date.  That's the way it was then. Employers did not make allowances for career-minded pregnant women.  

So there I was on my due date standing at the card catalog in the library (remember those?) filing away and at 5pm off I went home and that night, off I went into labor.  I was 32.

Despite being married more than once, I was able to avoid having a child.  I had decided I didn't want children.  I masked it in not wanting to bring more children into the world, but it was really that I was terrified of giving birth.  When I was 12, I used to babysit for a doctor, and I was a nosy little 12-year-old.  They had books with pictures of actual births.  Ew.  And then when I was  even younger, my older brothertold my young impressionable self that giving birth was like taking your lower lip and pulling it up over your head.  How he knew this, I am not sure.

However, when I was ready to give birth I was happy about it.  I had come to grips with my childhood fears.

I was just coming out of the 70's, so naturally I read all of the books about birthing in a bathtub, having a midwife, being I wanted to have a natural birth in a birthing room.  Today those are commonplace, but back then, the only birthing room available was at the county hospital with a resident doctor in attendance (full-fledged doctors supposedly didn't want to invest the time needed to attend a natural birth at a birthing center - I guess that messed up their plans to play golf).  Today there are hospital beds that turn into birthing beds. Back then, for me, it was a room with a real double bed.  And a boom box playing music.  All the comforts of home. But wouldn't you know, during the worst part of the birth, I distinctly remember hearing Diana Ross singing, "Upside Down," which has lyrics like:

Inside out
And round and round
Upside down
Boy, you turn me

Inside out
And round and round

and I thought, my god, my brother was right. 

But like they say, you forget the pain of the birth and revel in the love of your baby.

However, I didn't get to revel long. At six weeks, I had to go back to work and take my baby boy to daycare. 

Can you imagine turning that little guy over to virtual strangers?

We did not have the money for nannies or babysitters who came to the house.  In those days, you found licensed day care people who would take infants and finding good daycare then was as difficult as it is now, if not more difficult. But my husband (not to be confused with Hubby) didn't have a job, and I was putting him through college. That was the deal we struck, one where I didn't really understand the ramifications.  As it turned out, not a good deal for me as my then husband was cheating on me with a fellow student, 19 (I was 32), and it all turned out very badly. When it all came to light, I remember saying I didn't wait until I was 32 to have a child to raise him by myself, but we don't have control over these things, do we?

But I didn't know that yet, so in spite of having to work 40 hours per week, I could still enjoy my little guy when I was home.  Ad he particularly enjoyed his Jolly Jumper (which as with many things was banned later, I think) and when he was done...

 I also enjoyed his other little antics.

But right after we celebrated his first birthday, it all started going to hell.  The husband ran off with the coed and baby and I were on our own.  I didn't handle it well.

Long story short, and it's a godawful long godawful story, I set about making a life alone with my little boy.

It was not a happy time.

I found a place to live and things started to mellow out. 

I always loved this picture as he as fascinated with the construction across the street from our apartment. 

And people! Chill out. I was right there.  He was not in the street!

But here are the kinds of things that happen with divorce. 

Right after this picture was taken, my little boy went for his weekend with his Dad and his grandmother took him for his FIRST HAIRCUT!  No one asked me what I thought and I wasn't there and they cut off all of that beautiful hair without my permission.  I have the locks from MY first haircut but not from my own son's.

He also had his life disrupted with the back and forth to his Dad's, such as being whisked away Christmas morning just after he was starting to enjoy his presents from Santa or having to go away for long summers.

But things improved. 

I had decided he and I would be fine.  I felt positive about my future and isn't that the way it often happens?  When you aren't looking, your future appears.  Hubby-to-be came along when I wasn't looking and when I was contemplating a future on my own with my boy.  And when I discovered he loved my boy as much as he loved me, well, it seemed like fate. 

We went to visit Grammy and Granddaddy in Michigan.  Here he is at four.  Things are feeling better.

Just as I had to endure, so did my children. 

I am talking about that "first day of school picture."

Just as it was with me, every first day of school is recorded for MY children. 

Here is the first day of his first grade.

(Wave to Mommy!)

Then all of a sudden it was 3rd Grade.

And everything started going so fast.

And all of this happened. 

Well the sports thing was happening before third grade but...

Middle school - let's not talk about that. 

High School

Senior Year

That letter jacket.  OMG.  He couldn't have cared less, but his proud Mama did. 

I wore it to all of his games and I made sure all of his accomplishments were on that jacket:  ASB President, MVP, Central Coast Champs, various honors from all four years of three different sports and academics, all of it and when they made a mistake once on the jacket, I paid to have them rip out the writing and do it over!

Some day he will thank me.

He graduated from high school with honors, from college with honors and then

My son the Dahk-tah. 

Doctor of Jurisprudence that is.  

And then he found the love of his life. 

(As in Oz, don't look behind the curtain or rather at the bridesmaid with the beer bottle no longer wearing heels. That's his sister.  Weddings can be exhausting).

His parents are delighted. 

Because it's all about happiness. 

What more can you wish for your children?

That said, despite the fact that our adult children want us to acknowledge them as adults, and we do, we really do, we really try to do, OK sometimes we don't, there is always that part that will think, and he's not going to like this:

He will always be my baby boy.

Happy Birthday, my baby boy!

(2020 Update:  Since this was written there has been another addition to my son's family!

And here they all are now.)

Thanks for Reading.

See you again soon!

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