‘Twas the Day Before Her Birthday . . .

Photo by Ami Suhzu on Pexels.com

‘Twas the day before her birthday and all through the house everything was normal, there was no mouse.

The big dog was curled on her loveseat again, leaving room for her to sit with her pen,

but the poet was sleepy so she stayed at her desk hoping that typing would make up for the rest.

Today’s the last day that she’ll be 68, her birthday is coming, and yes, she can wait.

Her back it is aching, her feet are in pain, and her hair is coming out wrong once again.

The pressure is mounting for her natal day, must make it special, but how, in what way?

She’s living alone in her house in the woods and no one is coming—COVID–it’s understood.

She’s thinking she’ll buy herself a cake with gooey white frosting or buy a mix to bake,

maybe get a big fat burger and a vanilla shake, but she’s lactose intolerant, oh well, just the cake.

A card or two may arrive in the post, but it’s likely on Facebook she’ll get the most

birthday greetings from friends far and near; she’ll “like” them, the next day they’ll all disappear.

She’ll wait for packages outside her door when really she needs to go to the store

because her day is senior discount day and dog food is pricey so she’ll go, okay?

And maybe the birthday fairy will come but probably not because there isn’t one

and an unwatched United Parcel truck is more likely to come, that’s the luck,

and 69 looks a lot like 68, but oh my God, 70, there’s a sad fate,

but never mind, it hasn’t happened yet, day by day, let’s all forget

because age is just a number, true, it’s who you are and what you do

and she’s got good genes although her jeans are ripped but it doesn’t show,

she’s lucky she made it to 69, lonely yes, but mostly fine.

Except for the aching back and feet, in her head she’s only 17,

and that’s the way she plans to stay until her far-off dying day.

When she sings “happy birthday to me,” for once the song will be on key.

***

Okay, so I got a little crazy with the rhyming this morning, but hey, birthdays for grownups are not what they were when we were kids. I used to wake up surrounded by presents my mom had sneaked onto my bed. I opened them before breakfast–which was whatever I wanted to eat. I wore new clothes to school, the teacher made a big deal of my birthday, family came over in the evening with more presents, and there was cake, so much cake. My favorite was when my mom made chocolate cake frosted with Cool Whip.

At my age, it’s different. My father used to say “it’s just another day,” but it’s not. I know I’ll be awake, chanting “I’m 68, I’m 68,” waiting for the clock to strike 4:10 a.m., the time that I was born at the old O’Connor Hospital in San Jose. I tell myself I won’t, but I will. Maybe it’s a Pisces thing. Happy b-day to all my March-born friends and family. We are special.

***

This week, I have lowered the price on the Kindle version of my most recent book, Love or Children: When You Can’t Have both, to 99 cents. How can you resist that? While you’re on the Amazon page, click my name, see all my books and buy a few. That would be a nice birthday present. 

This is my 600th post at Unleashed in Oregon! Happy birthday to the blog, too. Thank you all for reading what I write. If you like it, spread the word.

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Dad’s 94th birthday full of surprises

Dad42911People can be rude, annoying and selfish, but sometimes they can be so very, very good.

Yesterday was my father Ed Fagalde’s 94th birthday. I couldn’t be in San Jose to help him celebrate. I worried that he’d be spending the day alone, that even though he says, “It’s just another day,” he would be sad. But people stepped up, people you wouldn’t even expect.

Yes, Dad’s cousin called from Texas, my aunt took him to lunch on Saturday, and my brother’s family took him to lunch on Sunday (Thank you!). Yes, I sent a gift, which arrived on his doorstep on time. But nobody expected a neighbor he barely knew to call to wish him happy birthday and invite him to come over. And nobody expected what happened when he went to dinner alone at his favorite restaurant, the Country Inn on Saratoga Avenue.

Eating dinner alone at a restaurant can be daunting. You find yourself surrounded by couples and families while you have no one to talk to. I always bring a book, but Dad just eats in silence since Mom died in 2002.

Not this time. The manager joined him at the table, saying the staff could run the place without him. They talked like old friends. Indeed they have been seeing each other at the restaurant for many years. At dessert time, seven workers sang to him and brought him a candlelit slice of cake that was so big he brought most of it home to enjoy later. And when he asked about his check, he was told the meal was “on the house.”

It wasn’t over. At church yesterday morning, even though it was First Communion Day and the place was packed with little girls in white dresses and little boys in suits, the congregation honored my father. He didn’t expect it. He’s not active in church activities. He sits in the second to last row with a young family with three kids who have claimed him as an extra grandfather. They’re the only ones who know his name. He had just come back from the restroom when a woman up front told him not to sit down. She announced that it was his birthday, and over 500 people applauded him. He was thrilled. The priest asked how old he was—94—and how long he had been coming to St. Martin’s—65 years. San Jose is a big city. It’s easy to be anonymous in the crowd. But not this time. People recognized and honored him. That was the best gift anyone could have given him.

Last night on the phone, Dad said someone asked him how he kept going so long. Eating and sleeping, he said. When you stop doing that, you’re done.

Dad still lives on his own in the house where I grew up. Since he broke his hip in 2014, he can’t move like he used to, but he’s an independent cuss and he has good genes. His father lived to 98. His cousin made it to 96. We all know that things could change at any minute—or not. Meanwhile, I am blessed to have him, and I am so grateful that people paid attention this year. It matters.

Look up and notice the people sitting alone. Say hello. They might be great people like my my father.

Happy birthday, Dad.