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!
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.