This year, beginning in the middle of May, I sequestered myself in the spare bedroom at my cousin Tracie’s house in Las Vegas to begin recovering from an injury I inflicted on myself out at Lake Mead at the end of April.
Two months after the injury, exactly to the day, I celebrated my 63rd birthday.
I was still at Tracie’s house.
So I knew my birthday was going to be an interesting day.
On her way home from work the night before, Tracie had brought me a couple of Mylar balloons with “Happy Birthday” on them, and a package of ice cream cupcakes. We celebrated my birthday with her two toddler-aged foster kids, eating cake and playing with the balloons. (If we ever forget how much fun balloons are, just find a couple of little kids and give them some balloons – it’s an instant reminder of the little things that make us happy.)
The next afternoon, the day of my “real” birthday, we went to Tracie’s daughter-in-law’s baby shower. Ate food. Watched Jessica open baby presents. Nice, low-key, no games. My kind of shower. And guess what! She’s having the baby today, a little girl named Mikayla who’s joining an older brother, Jackson.
Like I said, it was an interesting day.
Somewhere around 6:00 in the evening, I decided I wanted to talk to my son.
So I texted him. “Hey you! Call your mom. It’s her birthday.” followed by this weirdo emoticon
Just after I pressed “Send,” I saw that he had posted on my Facebook page. So I decided to check it out. And before I got more than a sentence or two read, he called.
And since I hadn’t read it yet, he asked me to read it out loud. I have to admit, there were a few times where I choked up and my voice kind of squeaked out but I was so touched by what he wrote that I wanted to share it with all of you. Some of you have already read it because we’re FB friends but many of you have not. I’m one proud mama, and always have been, but this was so unexpected and now I’m sharing with all of you just how cool I think my son is.
To say I’m very glad to have been a part of his Planet Earth plans doesn’t convey just how much I am, and I hope to continue to be a part of his life for a very long time.
I hope you enjoy reading it!
It’s Your Birthday!
Mom – I’m so thankful for you in my life. I know you’ve been traveling and exploring the world a lot, and I don’t call enough, but you need to know that I’m always there by your side. We have, in many ways, grown up together, and a couple of times you have expressed disappointment in the wild environment in which you raised me, and I want you to know from the depth of my heart you need not spend another moment of regret. You have shaped and steered me to where I am – and I’m so thankful.
You told me I could do anything. You never hesitated or held me back from wanting to try anything. From as long as I can remember, you always told me I could do anything. I could create art, or play music, or write software, or save up my money and go to Europe… or whatever I want. I did all those things (and so many more) before I was 16.
You taught me how to explore and create. When we didn’t have money to go to the big attractions, you brought me to the library to show me how to explore a world much bigger than a theme park. We read many many books, and learned about creating crafts out of nothing more than sticks, a marshmallow and some string (true story, I made a bow-and-arrow set from these tools and nothing more). You showed me how to find a universe inside a book.
You introduced me to the beach. Beaches that the rest of the world is envious of. Santa Monica, Oceanside, Harbor Island, Dana Point… dozens more. Only Gidget spent more time on the sand than we did. I swam, played, built amazing fortresses out of sand, and dug holes deep enough that I was sure we would break through to China. We had sandwiches that contained more sand than wich, and roasted hundreds of hotdogs and marshmallows. The beach is in my blood because of you.
You showed me how to blow bubbles. Big bubbles, little bubbles, in our yard, in the house, at the beach, in the park, out the window of the car. There were always bubbles. Beautiful, rainbow filled bubbles that might last only a few seconds… but that was enough, because we could just blow more bubbles. Nick doesn’t understand my fascination with bubbles – but he didn’t grow up with you.
You showed me how to help others. You helped me raise 5 guide dogs for the blind, and always made it a big part of my life to keep in contact with those the dogs were guiding. We frequented the soup kitchens, and the share programs, and any place where someone needed a helping hand. As a volunteer at SMYRC, as a volunteer with project Angel Food in LA, or even at the science museum, I always am looking for how I might share and care for others – this is a goodness that you passed on to me, and I hope to inspire others with.
I kept you in the dark about being gay for so many years, and I’m sorry. I remember when I came out to you how much you regretted not being available for me during those times when I couldn’t talk to anyone in the world. This was my fault for not trusting you (or anyone) with the shame I felt about myself. I wish I had let you in, as I know you would have been (as you always have been) my biggest cheerleader… and help me realize how important it is to be authentically “me”. Over the past 20 years, you have been an advocate, friend and supporter in ever aspect of my life.
I love you dearly, and am so glad I chose you to be my mom.
Happy Birthday from your Son!
(and yes, just as I was finishing this, you sent me a reminder text to call you… I’ll do that too!)
PS. It was also a lot of fun to read the FB comments that others made after he posted this; nice to read what others thought of his birthday celebration tribute to me. Such an interesting end to an interesting birthday. Here’s to another trip around the sun! Wishing you all a fantastic year!