The last time a birthday brought me to my knees was (about an ice age ago) when I turned 30. The sensation of youth spent and misspent, time lost, world not yet conquered. Then everything seemed to speed up and fast-forward and decades whooshed past. Birthdays faded, mercifully, into the background. Kids born, kids raised, kids gone. Whoa, where did all that time go and why are there now so many candles on my cake?
Birthdays were more fun back in the day:
I have a trusty little strategy for unpleasantness. In psychological circles it is known as “avoidance coping”. As this rather distasteful birthday approached, I told the CE I had only one wish – to just run away. Being the CE, he understood, of course, so we planned my escape. But also being the CE, he willingly partnered in my friend Pamela’s cloak and dagger scheme to surprise me with an exquisitely beautiful luncheon celebration before I departed. It was a week ago and I am still mostly in shock.
I remember these beautiful flowers but the rest of it was like a dream:
As Pamela reminded me that day in her remarks, we have known one another for more than thirty years. She has, with spectacularly good humor, cheered us on through raising four children and an unrelenting parade of animals. Her daughter, Alexandra, graciously played older sibling to our boys and in turn, I introduced Pamela to her husband, Kirk.
Pamela and me, back in the day:
And a bit more recently:
Alexandra with our boys:
And at her wedding at our home a few years ago:
The one consolation of getting frightfully old is that you have the blessing of long-time friends. Pamela gathered some of the most special ones for the luncheon.
Julia, who has been a precious part of our family since her college years:
And also Elizabeth, Tammy, Marsha and dear, dear Karen, who made her prized Swedish Apple Cake for the birthday dessert:
Me (in shock!) and Elizabeth:
The group photo – that’s Pamela in front on the right, looking deservedly pleased with herself for almost giving me a heart attack of surprise:
They all said incredibly nice things about me in prepared remarks, which it will take me at least another decade to live up to, so there’s a project going forward.
And then I did run away to NYC. But instead of moping around and chanting “Woe is me” as I had originally expected, son Daniel and dear friend, Victoria, joined me for a lovely birthday dinner. Leave it to them to actually make it a happy birthday!
I will cherish this photo forever:
That’s a lot of celebrating for a birthday I was trying to escape. I am bedazzled in the wonderment of being held undeservedly dear by so many. This will buoy me through many birthdays to come!
And now you’ll have to excuse me – I have thank you notes to write…