Birthday All Day Party in Celebration of Life

Last Saturday, I wrote about a mountain hike in celebration of my friends’ birthday, not mine. Like most people of a certain age, I dreaded another birthday, a reminder that I was aging. Frankly, I don’t need reminders. My knees creak, my jowls drop, my muscles sag, and gravity drags me one step closer to the underground. I wanted to sneak into my 56th year without any hoop a la. But the word got out!

birthday 2013

The night before my birthday at basketball practice, right on cue, when my point guard threw the ball out of bounds on a fast break, the team burst into song. The players brought out juice and homemade cupcakes and cookies in my honor, but I toasted them – for what is a coach without a team?

In homeroom, my 12th grade students insisted I call an emergency meeting Thursday morning, which I did, not realizing that I was the emergency. Students baked one cake for me and another one for a new boy in our group, whose birthday was the same day.

In the English department at morning break, my colleagues raised their coffee cups in cheer and passed around a chocolate cake.

Students in my freshman English class whispered in front of the multimedia center where we met to watch To Kill a Mockingbird. To distract me, a student dragged me to the back of the library to help her find a book. When I entered the assembly room, the class burst into song and a smorgasbord of baked goods magically appeared along with a homemade card, the best kind.

During lunch at my learning support department meeting, another friend made a frosted, pumpkin cake with American flag candles. This time round, a colleague sang the birthday song in Dutch.

.

.

I haven’t had so much fun on a birthday since I was five years old and my mom baked me a white-frosted bunny cake covered in coconut.

When I arrived home after parent-teacher conferences, a bouquet of tulips sat on my doorstep. Inside, my Frenchman poured wine at a candle lit table and served leftovers on wedding china, but not just any ol’ leftovers!  Baby goat, simmered in wine sauce in a garden of carrots, zucchini and peppers, was a meal fit for a queen that tasted even better the second time around.

Just before falling asleep, I turned on my laptop and was bowled over with messages from family and friends scattered around the globe from Seattle to Boston, Paris to Berlin, London to Sydney and everywhere in between.

The fanfare was unexpected, especially from the college kids, like the surprise call from my son in St. Paul, who carried the conversation for a change, and an old-fashioned handwritten letter from my niece in Omaha.

GenFab writers, Gutsy Indie Publishers, blogging buddies, former classmates and teammates posted messages and feted me on facebook.

Ever since my professional basketball career ended in an accident 3 decades ago, I have wondered why I survived.

Now, I know.

In simple, heartfelt ways people took time to draw cards, write messages, bake cakes and make me feel special.

I wanted to skip my birthday; you assured me that my life –sags, bags, wrinkles and all-is still worth celebrating!

Riding on a sugar high from too much cake and so many well wishes, overwhelmed by the  ways people connected and confirmed my existence, my heart is filled with gratitude.

Every day a gift!

Merci mille fois (thanks a thousand times) for the reminder.

 

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71 Comments

  1. Pat, so glad you had the tangible gifts of knowing just how much you are loved. You dish it out in so many intangible, small ways that add up to make a difference. Nice that folks were able to “love” you back in such a special way. Big cyber hugs from across the miles.

    • Tina,I still remember the time you & Kat decorated my ol’ registration room in the portacabin & you made me a cheesecake! Your friendship has always made me feel special.

  2. Pat, so glad you had the tangible gifts of knowing just how much you are loved. You dish it out in so many intangible, small ways that add up to make a difference. Nice that folks were able to “love” you back in such a special way. Big cyber hugs from across the miles.

    • Tina,I still remember the time you & Kat decorated my ol’ registration room in the portacabin & you made me a cheesecake! Your friendship has always made me feel special.

  3. Pat, I am so glad that the light you shine on others was reflected back to you. You deserved every special act of kindness you received yesterday and the affirmation that your life makes such a difference in the lives of others-mine included. Happy Birthday with love!

  4. Pat, I am so glad that the light you shine on others was reflected back to you. You deserved every special act of kindness you received yesterday and the affirmation that your life makes such a difference in the lives of others-mine included. Happy Birthday with love!

  5. Happy Birthday hugs across the ocean, Pat!You know that saying ” what goes around , comes around”? You had a celebration befitting the gem of a person- wife, mother, aunt, daughter, teacher, team player and friend- you are. Enjoy and keep shining on xoxo

  6. Happy Birthday hugs across the ocean, Pat!You know that saying ” what goes around , comes around”? You had a celebration befitting the gem of a person- wife, mother, aunt, daughter, teacher, team player and friend- you are. Enjoy and keep shining on xoxo

  7. And all that for 56?? I can’t wait until your 60th! We better start planning now. It is wonderful to be loved, and whether it’s your 5th or 56th, you are loved by all.

  8. And all that for 56?? I can’t wait until your 60th! We better start planning now. It is wonderful to be loved, and whether it’s your 5th or 56th, you are loved by all.

  9. Hey Patty baby!
    that sounds like a perfect day – You deserve it!
    Herzlichen Glückwunsch auch von mir! Bette

    • Thanks Bette and I still remember one very special birthday in Marburg when the Strauffenstrasse mafia surprised me by painting the walls of my room while I was upstairs peeling onions for goulash. Magical memories of wonderful time and team…so glad you have kept in touch all these years!

  10. What a wonderful day of surprises…I treasure the memories of the “surprise” parties my students gave me! Enjoy, enjoy!

  11. What a wonderful day of surprises…I treasure the memories of the “surprise” parties my students gave me! Enjoy, enjoy!

  12. Happy Happy Birthday, Pat! Isn’t it wonderful when we expect nothing and get everything?! You are indeed blessed, to have such caring friends, students, and family who are so willing to shower you with tributes. And sweets — my golly, I think I just gained five pounds reading this, ha!

    • Debbie, What you said “isn’t it wonderful when we expect nothing and get everything” is so true! Part of it comes from seeking the positive and treasuring the simple things in life that we are often times too busy to appreciate. Kids live in the moment & seem to know this instinctively. After my cake day bonanza… I am 5 pounds heavier and 5 times happier!

  13. Happy Happy Birthday, Pat! Isn’t it wonderful when we expect nothing and get everything?! You are indeed blessed, to have such caring friends, students, and family who are so willing to shower you with tributes. And sweets — my golly, I think I just gained five pounds reading this, ha!

    • Debbie, What you said “isn’t it wonderful when we expect nothing and get everything” is so true! Part of it comes from seeking the positive and treasuring the simple things in life that we are often times too busy to appreciate. Kids live in the moment & seem to know this instinctively. After my cake day bonanza… I am 5 pounds heavier and 5 times happier!

  14. Glad you had such a lovely day, and long may you keep having such wonderful birthdays where ‘Pat’ and all her amazing qualities are celebrated. I wish I could have made you a birthday cake too… but maybe a week early as the warm-up to your birthday baking bonanza!! Hugs, Rach xxx

    • Thanks Rach! Miss your dancingfeet! My muscles are getting tighter and more rigid each year, but my mind is still stretching…reaching out to you all the way to your new home in Australia!

  15. Glad you had such a lovely day, and long may you keep having such wonderful birthdays where ‘Pat’ and all her amazing qualities are celebrated. I wish I could have made you a birthday cake too… but maybe a week early as the warm-up to your birthday baking bonanza!! Hugs, Rach xxx

  16. How Grand! You should always know you’re special,on your birthday and everyday…Your peeps are dancing to the music:)

    Much blessings & abundance, Pat!
    Clara.

  17. Happy Birthday Pat. Where do the years go? It seems like only
    yesterday that you were in grade school. I enjoy reading your Blogs,
    they are wonderful.

    • Thanks Jean…sometimes I still feel like I am in grade school. I am still just a big kid at heart. Did I ever tell you that one year, I taught 1st grade PE…boy did that make me appreciate you and my mom! What energy the little ones have.

  18. Happy Birthday Pat. Where do the years go? It seems like only
    yesterday that you were in grade school. I enjoy reading your Blogs,
    they are wonderful.

    • Thanks Jean…sometimes I still feel like I am in grade school. I am still just a big kid at heart. Did I ever tell you that one year, I taught 1st grade PE…boy did that make me appreciate you and my mom! What energy the little ones have.

  19. Happy Belated Birthday Pat!!! It’s funny how after all these years I still think of you and the family and remember that your birthday is the end of February, Karen’s is the beginning of March, Sue and your dad have August birthdays and that I haven’t a clue when your mom’s and Doug’s are. I also can still recite your Sterling East 19th phone number and house number. So, please remember that I will always be thinking of you and wishing you a wonderful day, even if I don’t formally acknowledge. And sometimes I will also be asking myself just how smart I could be if I didn’t remember all these numbers and could store really important and significant stuff up there!

    Once again, Happy Birthday and here’s to many more!

    • Kath, I can’t believe you still remember our old phone number. Yes, the memories of our magical childhood remained deeply ingrained. We were lucky to have grown up together during a time when it was safe to play outside, hang out under the streetlight, catch fireflies and know that benevolent neighbors kept a watchful eye. Thanks for the warm birthday thoughts.

  20. Just like you, as each birthday approaches I begin to hope that it will just go un-noticed this year! After all, how could I be getting older??? It can’t be!!! I still think of myself as a 20-something-year-old! But, of course, as you especially know, the alternative to not having a birthday is something we don’t even want to think about!

    Pat, it sounds like everyone went to great lengths to make your day extra-special, and, my new friend, it is certainly much deserved! Happy birthday and I wish you a wonderful year!

    • Thanks Bonnie, I feel like I have a 20 something brain stuck on an 80 year old bod! ha. While my mind still says go, go, go, my body says no, no, no. So grateful to be connected across the miles!

  21. Just like you, as each birthday approaches I begin to hope that it will just go un-noticed this year! After all, how could I be getting older??? It can’t be!!! I still think of myself as a 20-something-year-old! But, of course, as you especially know, the alternative to not having a birthday is something we don’t even want to think about!

    Pat, it sounds like everyone went to great lengths to make your day extra-special, and, my new friend, it is certainly much deserved! Happy birthday and I wish you a wonderful year!

    • Thanks Bonnie, I feel like I have a 20 something brain stuck on an 80 year old bod! ha. While my mind still says go, go, go, my body says no, no, no. So grateful to be connected across the miles!

  22. Happy Birthday to a woman I’ve always admired because of your determination and spirit. You’ve touched the lives of people who you don’t even know. I know you’ve touched mine and you are one of a small cirlce of friends who helped shape the person I am today.

    • Thanks Mar-Mar…so sweet. I had no idea. I so glad that you are happy & healthy Down South & hope to see you again Up North, if you can get that car running smoothly again.ha

  23. Happy Birthday to a woman I’ve always admired because of your determination and spirit. You’ve touched the lives of people who you don’t even know. I know you’ve touched mine and you are one of a small cirlce of friends who helped shape the person I am today.

  24. You ARE worth celebrating! Glad your day was so joy-filled! (and so cake-filled! LOL)

  25. You ARE worth celebrating! Glad your day was so joy-filled! (and so cake-filled! LOL)

  26. Happy Belated Birthday, Pat! I sure enjoyed reading about your day full of surprises and cakes! I also loved the Peanuts video and the Sly video. Wow! That kind of looks like Soul Train! Hilarious!

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