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Memorable birthdays

It was just a couple years ago that I learned that Don’s birthday was just a couple days after mine. Our first “date” was a dinner to celebrate my birthday. I recall that I was surprised when he invited me to go, but I accepted his invitation. Why do I remember this? I guess because we really were not dating at the time!

Since my bout with cancer I have been especially proud of being able to celebrate my birthday. It means that I survived another year without incident. I have learned that I have to live each day as if it was my last.I appreciate each and every day that I am alive. Since I donate regularly to FLN (Family Life Network) I am allowed to designate a day to celebrate. This year I chose to celebrate both of our birthdays. We will both celebrate being alive for another year. That being said, I want to reflect on some other birthdays that I remember.

One of my birthdays came during the time my mother was in the hospital for thyroid surgery. I recall Grandma bringing a cake to the hospital so I could eat it with my mom. I was young, but we got special permission from her nurses. We gathered in one of the solariums. I remember that I had a chocolate cake with seven-minute frosting. That is what I had nearly every year.

Actually, I recall very few of the gifts that I received. Let this be a guide. Children remember more about the celebrations than the gifts. I had one birthday party with friends. There was a picture taken in the front yard so I remember who was there. It was just a couple of my neighbors and one special friend, a minister’s daughter who was moving away that year.

Often my cousins came to celebrate with me. Grandma usually baked my cake. When I got older, we played cards. I loved to play pinochle. I also liked to play Scrabble.

When I was dating my husband – my first husband – he surprised me with an outfit. He had good taste. It was a pair of houndstooth slacks, the kind with stirrups, and a sweater with a black dickey. He did a good job. Everything fit me perfectly. That is the only time he ever bought me clothes without me trying them on!

One year I asked to go for a train ride for my birthday. We took the Knox and Kane Railroad to Kinzua Bridge. He made the arrangements and even bought the lunch that they offered to eat during the ride.

We took a lot of pictures that day. I am so glad that we took them because the bridge was damaged by a tornado years after that. One picture that I especially like was taken from beneath the bridge looking up at the supports.

I had two birthday parties in the years that I was a teacher. One year my class planned a surprise birthday party. It was a surprise all right because it was a couple weeks after my birthday. I got a gold bracelet as a gift from the class. The second party was given by my sixth-graders.

I had them in fourth grade as well so they knew when it was my birthday. After lunch when I got back to the room it was all decorated. The girls had made themselves “poodle skirts” for the occasion – incidentally I never had a poodle skirt. They brought some music to dance to. They asked me to teach them how to jitterbug. We had a great time. They brought a cake and gave me a gift certificate to a book store. They knew how much I liked to read.

Of course, Don has taken me out to eat every year since that first time. We did not exchange birthday gifts until we married. Last year I got a beautiful set of earrings and a necklace that he picked out. Since that time, I received several sets of jewelry from him on various occasions.

Last year we spent our birthdays in Alaska. It was our delayed honeymoon. Melanie made me sweet rolls for breakfast the morning of my birthday.

What a treat! That evening, we went to AJ’s on the Homer Spit for supper. Sarah and Melanie went with us. Sarah took a picture that now graces the family calendar for the month of September. For Don’s birthday Melanie made him a mincemeat pie and cooked him the Alaskan fish that he likes. His picture is also on the calendar.

The year before she baked him a pie and mailed it. Miracle of miracles it arrived safely. I am so glad that we went to Alaska last year. Probably with all of the rules in place at this point we would not have been able to go this year.

My scripture for the day is one of my favorite verses. I have several that have spoken to me throughout the years. I have also used this one for the grandchildren when they graduated from high school. It is Jeremiah 29: 11 – “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It is with great joy that I celebrate this birthday. I have triumphed over cancer and have been allowed to not only live my life, but find a second love. I feel in spite of the pandemic that I am enjoying my life to the fullest!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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