Thank you all for your warm birthday greetings now a week past. They meant so much to me!
I treasure each message, every friendship.
I’ve been pondering birthdays—my own, and those of others I love—us “January kids.”
January is often called a “new beginning.” The first month of a new year, giving birth to visions of what life might become—opportunities to “do it better”— the discovery of new ways to grow and give, learn and love.
Funny thing, though. In my part of the world, January comes in the darkest time of the year—the days are short, the nights long. It’s cold. Clouds swirl, rain dumps from the heavens, rivers rise, the ocean rages. Christmas is over. Decorations came down. Adult children return to their homes, taking their children, my grandchildren with them. Time to clean up, pack away the old, prepare for the new. Back to work.
Ironically, for me, sometimes January gives rise to those feelings within—a haunting sense of melancholy, of wistful reflection, of wondering what’s ahead while grieving the loss of what’s passed.
So January—this new beginning. What’s new about beginning? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Isn’t any beginning “new?” Or—is it? How often do I begin again, in the same old way? How can I have a “new” beginning—try different ways of doing the “old?” How can I let the people who matter to me—and that’s each of you—know how special you are, how much you mean, how much I love you? Oh, some of you I don’t know that well—you’re mostly “facebook friends”. But we share space on this planet, we breathe in the air and exhale the joys and sorrows of our shared humanity. And some of you I know well. Some of you I’ve hurt with what I’ve said, or not said, and some of you I’ve shared amazing times with, and smile as I remember. So here we are, in January. I want to “do better, to love better, to be more kind and generous, caring and kind.
I’ve never been afraid of saying how old I am, though this year I told someone I was 85 just to hear them say, “Oh, you look so young!” And I laughed out loud. But this year I’ve struggled with the idea I’m in the last of my 60’s. Wow! How did that happen? Yet as I reflect, I’m sobered with the realization that I’ve had the gift of reaching 69—an opportunity denied to many. I’ve seen my children grow up, watched them pursue their dreams. I’ve lived long enough to see some of them have children. I know my grandchildren and get to see them often (though not as often as I’d like!). I’m married still and forever to Lee, the love of my life, for going on 49 years—we’re still growing up together! I have a home and health and a car and meaningful work and a nice cell phone. I have books and music and beauty all around. I live in a wonderful corner of the world in a town with people who care for each other, and worship in a faith community that seeks love and kindness. I’m humbly grateful for these privileges.
I recognize life can change in a moment, as it has for many of you. Just for today—I’ll treasure another day, another birthday.
I’m rambling—often what I do. As I’ve been reflecting on life, and birthdays specifically, I’ve thought of other January birthdays, birthdays of those I love. Thought I’d share a few snippets of some of the other "January kids” who I’m humbly grateful for, who have colored my life in vivid color and helped shape who I am.
My mom was the first January girl I knew. Born on the eighth of the month, she nurtured and loved me well. She’s been gone nearly eight years now, and not a day goes by but I don’t miss her. This year, January 8 rolled around again, according to the earth’s cycle, and again, I remembered and missed my beloved mother. That missing never goes away. I loved her!
Seven years after I arrived, she gave me a baby sister, born the last day of the month. All I’d known was three brothers. Wonderful as they are, I’ll never forget the joy of welcoming Deanne. She, too, impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined, and continues to do so to this day. I love her!
And then there’s Marcia. Marcia Joy Hinkle—born 4 days after me, we shared not only our birthday month, but the same middle name, the same teachers, the same friends. We dreamed the dreams young children dream, and shared joys and sorrows of growing-up years. At four years old, we became tight friends, and remain so to this day. Though we live far apart, she is never far from my heart. I love her dearly, and look forward to the times we spend together. I love her!
And then there’s Charity. Eight years ago we were mirror twins—sort of! She turned 16 when I turned 61, our birthdays one day apart. We celebrate each other—and this year was no different. Though late in the evening of “her” day, she arrived, gift in hand, at my door. What fun! We sang happy birthday to each other and hugged and talked of her dog Maisy and when we’ll get together again. I love her!
Now Ranee’—my three youngest children’s “other mother” And Lorie, her husband who graciously opened their home to our children at pivotal times in our children's lives. For those of you who know Ranee’ and Lorie Dearing, you know how lucky we are. Ranee’ brightens the world as no other. Lorie is one of the kindest people I know. When someone loves your children, you’ve received the best gift a parent could receive. I could go on and on about Ranee’,and Lorie. Summing it up best, to know Ranee’ and Lorie is to love them—and I do!
Then there’s my beloved cousin, Mike—my “other brother.” Mike’s wedged between my two oldest brothers, Jim and Tom, and his birthday comes one day after my mother’s—something she took delight in! He lived with us for a time when I was a girl, and as the years have gone by, he’s grown ever more dear. He’s taught me much. His resilience and quest to learn and love inspire me. I love him!
On the eighteenth of January, two years ago, I received the best birthday present ever, a few days early—my #10 grandchild—and my very first and only-ever Xiomara. Born in Toronto, we donned clothing fit for a snow storm, with coats, scarves, gloves, warm stockings and boots and walked a few blocks to the hospital with her Mama and Daddy and other Grandma and Grandpa —to await her arrival. She arrived—and life has never been the same. Words don’t do her justice—she captured us all, and we’ve never been the same! Oh oh oh, how I love her!
There are others—you know who you are. Please know love this month, and forever.
Now, saying good-bye to January. May it come again!
Thank you all for sharing my journey. I count it a humble privilege.
OCEANSIDE BEACH--I LOVE THE BEACH!
The birthday girls, my Mom and me a few years ago at a Christmas tea
My sister Deann's 60th birthday