IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘birthdays

My Number One Son turned 42 this week. I had to work that day, but felt that anyone with a ‘child’ that age should be home in bed, resting. I am too old to still be working full time!

Jim is easy to look up to and I admire the man he has become. He is a voracious reader and knows something about almost everything. He is very hardworking, but balances his job with his home life better than a lot of people in his generation.

On his birthday, I always think about him as a child. I go back to the day I was at work at the bank on the university campus, married for over a year, suspecting I was pregnant and not sure how I felt about that. It was one of those “oops” things. Anyway, it was before the time of home pregnancy tests, so when the doctor’s office called me at work to confirm that I was indeed expecting, I still remember saying, “Thank you for calling.” Then I walked out of the bank, down the hall to the washroom in the student union building, (we did not have our own), sat in a cubicle, grinned at the closed door for a few minutes, and then went into panic mode. I was 21, playing at being an adult, and was soon to be responsible for another human being – a helpless, wiggly, poopy and non-talking little creature who I could royally screw up if I royally screwed up!

When Jim was born, I brought him home to the house I had grown up in and I learned to take care of a baby. The years flew by and he was such a delightful little boy, so smart and succinct when he began talking and so eager to learn about everything.

As a teenager, he always had me in stitches – what a sense of humour! He also had a serious and thoughtful side and when he was president of the school council, he came up with the idea for his grad class to give back by hosting a supper for seniors at Christmas time, a tradition that is still going strong today at the high school.

He used to clean our house every Friday after school so that I would say yes when he asked to borrow the car for the evening. When he left for university, I could not understand why the house was always untidy, when there were fewer people living in it.

Years later, he loved to tell me all the things he did while living at home that I had no idea about at the time, (thank goodness!) I would try to stop him by saying I did not need to know after the fact, but there was joy in the telling for him.

He has had a wonderfully interesting life, living in China for a few years on two occasions and always working at figuring things out about life and stuff. When he finally made me a grandmother, I felt he was really doing his most important life work. He is an awesome dad and delights in his beautiful wee son and daughter, stating that they are a prince and a princess and he is just there to serve. We laugh, but I think he really means it.

He has been the teacher and I the student for many years now, which brings me to the fact that he is my only son who I did not teach in the small-town high school when I worked there. He missed me by a year and was glad of it!

When other young boys were out playing ball and riding bikes, Jim was  spending long hours with his Apple 2 E computer. Now he rides his bike, taking great, long road trips. He was not into team sports in school, but decided, with a push from his math teacher who was also the coach, to play basketball in grade nine. Coach Bruce would come to my classroom to report what a great player Jim was. We were both so proud.

When he was in university in Edmonton, another teacher from our high school came into my classroom one day, waving a news article from the paper and exclaiming how proud he was of ‘our boy’! I had not heard about it until that moment, but it seems that Jim was inspired to strike against the cafeteria at the university about the quality of food or supplier or ? My memory fails me, but I do remember how proud his social studies teacher was as he presented me with the article and the photo of Jim, staged to look as if he was eating out of the cafeteria garbage can.

Jim is my Number One Son because he came first. He had to suffer through the mistakes made by a novice mother.  Your oldest child is your prototype. It gets easier with each one that comes along. By the third time, another ‘oops’ arrived in son Dean and I think I actually let him raise himself! Middle son David loves the fact that he was my only ‘planned’ child.

For my oldest son, I have miles of praise and the deepest admiration, and I love his wonderful talent as a master story-teller. He expertly plays to the audience when family members and friends get together. He keeps us laughing and can also make me shake my head in awe as I listen to his serious thoughts on other days. After a visit where the kids have gone to bed and Jim quietly shares some insights with me, I drive home asking myself how I got to be such a lucky mother.

My three sons and I grew up together, and they did such a great job of raising each other! I hope Jim is not even half way through his life and I wish him at least forty two more birthdays. If a mother’s love could guarantee an extra long life, he would surely live to be at least two hundred. Happy birthday Jimmy!


How can this be? My middle son is turning 39 on May 15th and in my own mind I am only 20 something. (My 85-year-old mother reacts the same way when she realizes her two daughters are thisclose to being senior citizens.) I can’t decide if it is a blessing or a problem, feeling like that, but it is my son’s 39th birthday and I am so proud of the man he has become.

David has always been the family nurturer. He hurts for everyone’s pain. He picks everyone up and helps them through hard times. He unselfishly gives of his time and his money to take care of his family and his friends. From keeping grandma’s house in working order over the years to offering a strong shoulder through relationship breakdowns and an instant money transfer to save any one of us, he is always there. He will jump in the car or hop on a plane to help friend or family member in a personal crisis.

He often starts a conversation with, “You know what you should do mom….” when I am off on one of my tangents of flying by the seat of my pants with a new life idea.

I look back at his life with such joy in my heart.  I am very proud of the person he has always been. His journey has had its own hard times, but he is a survivor. He is intelligent and has a smile that melts the heart of the crankiest old lady and wins over the trust in any business negotiation. He is honest and has never been afraid of hard work. It is his intelligence, honesty and forthrightness that has made him successful in business but it is his gentle heart and loyalty that has made him so dear to the rest of his family and friends.

His current job carries a lot of stress but he has worked hard at it to give his family a comfortable life. Before he got married, he had already purchased his first home, and before that, had opened a branch of a business in Vancouver while still in his early twenties. Without formal post secondary education, he has accomplished so much and is greatly admired by the rest of our family with our university degrees.

His finest accomplishment is his son Jack. I am in such awe of his love for his son. Coming from a single-parent family with a father who was not around much has made him more aware. David always wanted a ‘dad’ and had many men including grandpa and coaches who stepped in and helped make him the person he is today. He likes to quote his grandpa and truly honors him by being as much like him as he possibly can be.

His grandpa (my dad), had two daughters and a son who died just before age 16. David and his brothers were such gifts as grandsons for my dad, and he loved them with all his heart. David, in turn, idolized his grandpa. When my dad would come to make repairs at our house and asked who was going to help him, Jim and Dean would scatter, but David would carry the tool box and be ready to learn how to fix something.

When he was a teenager, the phone would ring off the hook with calls from girls. He is the only man I know who has stayed friends with nearly all the girls he dated over the years. That winning smile, blond hair and blue eyes never affected his sweet and humble nature though.

When David was three, he had his tonsils out. I remember going to the hospital to find him sitting in the hallway in his pyjamas, waiting for me. It was not a good experience for him and he came away with a great fear of needles. He had several health issues as a very young child that were also hard on him.

Last year Jack fell on a scooter and split his nostril clean through. David and Lyndsey rushed him to the hospital for stitches and pain meds. When David took him to the doctor to get the stitches out, Jack was terrified, so the doctor was unable to remove them. He agreed to let his dad take them out at home, and David did. Can you imagine this man who had his own bad medical experiences growing up, cutting the tiny stitches in his son’s nose because his son trusted him to do it? Now that is a parent-child bond that puts a huge lump in my throat.

A few weeks ago, Jack called to tell me he was going to a Beavers’ campout. I asked if he had to bring anything special. His reply was, “The special thing I am bringing is my Dad.”

In high school, David was an awesome volleyball player. He would scrape off a layer of skin across the gym floor to save the ball. I will always remember going with him to provincial championships with his school team. They were in the finals and the two teams were so evenly matched, with the excitement being almost too much for the spectators. One of our dads leaped up and yelled, “If you win, I will take you all to Vegas!” They did win and Vegas never did happen, but we were such proud parents. I remember crying from the pure joy of it. David’s dad had come to watch and could not figure out why everyone was so emotional. I told him you had to have been there for the whole ride.

I was there for the whole ride. It has been such an awesome trip. Memory lane for me tonight includes all the baseball and volleyball games, and the hockey coach telling me to go sit somewhere else because I was yelling at David to throw himself on the ice to stop the puck at age 7. We travelled to summer games every year. When I was on a walking kick, he would jump in the car and bring me back at the end of an hour, 5 days a week, just because I asked him to. When one of my dearest friends died of cancer several years ago, David came and sat with me at her funeral. When I bought a beat-up, old church with visions of turning it into a cafe, David was there to tear out carpets, etc. I spent three weeks with Jack, Lyndsey and David in France in 2010. It was a wonderful experience.

My wish for my middle child is for many more birthdays. Some may be very special celebrations and others not so much, due to where he will be at in life at the time. I hope they are mostly wonderful celebrations for him.

Like most parents, I just want my children to be happy. For David, I want him to know how much he is loved and cherished as he turns 39 and from the moment I first saw his beautiful smile.

6 + 3 = 9. Today I had a perfect ninth birthday.

Combine a gentle, blue-eyed, blond almost five year old with an exuberant, 5 and a half year old whose hair and eyes are the color of dark chocolate, and sit them side by side in a worse-for-wear 2004 Cavalier to drive across Calgary to Tommy Ks, and everyone knows what you get – bathroom talk in the back seat. It starts with farts and goes downhill from there with giggles and ‘I can do better than that’ comments swinging back and forth.

The birthday girl in the front has the fleeting thought, “What WAS I thinking?” as she misses the turn off Deerfoot and has to backtrack to 130 Ave. (Jack is staying with her for a few days and she has picked up Michael so the boys can spend the afternoon together.)

Upon arrival, the who-can-ever-tell-them-apart cousins make a dash into a world of fun, and Nana makes a bee line for the soft chairs in the front row where parents and grandparents sit and keep a watchful eye on their youngsters as they work their way through the maze of kid-happy things to do.

‘It’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want to’, so Nana checks FB messages on her Ipod, checks her phone for text messages, pulls out a new book on ‘how to write a book’ by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series – awesome), locates her lime-green Ipod Shuffle containing a zillion songs from a generation ago, plugs in and zones out.

Occasionally, she glance around to see where the ‘twins’ are before jotting down some notes, adjusting music volume and heading into the next chapter. The boys return periodically for cold drinks and snacks, then breathlessly run off again.

Nearly four hours later, the boys are sweat-soaked, worn out, and ready to go home. Again, Nana thinks, as she madly adjusts the air conditioning in the car, “What WAS I thinking?”

Bathroom talk picks up where it left off with the addition of a tickle or two and we head to Michael’s house to be greeted by three year old Laura. She runs up the steps, singing “Happy Birthday Nana!” and “It’s a secret. I can’t tell you! It is a ladybug cake!” as she gives Nana’s legs a bear hug. “Nice,” says mom, Carmen.

Dinner is a delight and the crowning glory is the ladybug cake with three candles, one representing each grandchild. The little ones sing in unison and with enthusiasm, and Nana tries hard to stop time forever at that moment when her throat closes up and she feels the swell of gratitude in her heart for such a blessed life.

Three grand puffs of air extinguish the candles and requests are made for “an eye”, “the icing side”, “a second piece”, etc.

Because cake is just an excuse to eat icing, it disappears within minutes and the kids are off to play for a while.

When it is time to go, Laura jumps behind Nana on the couch and wrapping herself around her neck, says, “I am a backpack!” as she hangs on for dear life.

Jack’s birthday is in 13 days so he gets presents from his cousins and we head back to Okotoks, kids blowing kisses and Nana honking the horn and annoying the neighbors. (You don’t turn 9 that often. Well, after 50 I guess you do, once every 10 years.)

Every year a birthday is different. Each unique celebration of another notch on the belt of life is a present to be unwrapped and savored.

Sometimes a birthday arrives during a fine time in life when all is well with nary a worry and other times, well, let’s just say ‘challenging’ is a polite description of those other times.

Either place is okay to be if it includes the gift of children. Michael, Jack and Laura are Nana’s gifts that ‘keep on giving’. They give joy and laughter and love beyond description.

To sum it up, when Jack asked for toast this morning and Nana said, “What should you say, Jack?” he replied, “Can I have toast PLEASE, Nana Banana?” He grinned from ear to ear and Nana laughed. Happy 9th birthday, if I do say so myself…

Today I turned 8. When you pass fifty, you get to add the two numbers together. Eight has a nice sound, especially since my actual birth year was before the invention of colored televisions.

Best birthdays. Hmmm. How do you rate them? Most gifts? Best party? Longest celebration? Maybe. But really, which ones leave you with the warm fuzzies and stories to tell of love and laughter?

Today I turned 8. Michael, age 4 and Laura age 2, picked out a princess cake for me and it was chocolate with chocolate icing. They sang to me and Laura blew out the candles before the song was over. We all laughed. Michael blew out the candles on the second lighting.

The day started with my youngest son Dean phoning from Hong Kong and talking for over half an hour. He had to stay up very late (time change) to make this call.  Then son David called to wish me a great day. I had an appointment to see a specialist about my thyroid condition so had to take the day off work. (It is nice to not work on your 8th birthday.) After a two-hour appointment, I met son Jim for sushi. Later we picked up the kids from day care and Laura came running to greet me with a hug and a birthday card she had made for me. It had a photo of her on the front from when she fell asleep in the high chair at Eva’s house. Eva, her caregiver, is a lovely lady who thought this would be a nice thing to do today for Nana. For supper we had hot dogs on the grill, chocolate birthday cake and strawberries, white wine and Nana got gift cards from Itunes. Woo hoo!

Little ones excited about my birthday, sushi and a grilled hot dog, a princess on a chocolate cake – what more could an eight year old want on her birthday?  Lots and lots of birthday greetings from friends on Facebook. Perfect.

Absolutely the most perfect birthday, thank you.

Intrepid woman is not a princess and wears crocs instead of glass slippers (according to Michael) but feels like a princess today. Proof that you do not have to kiss a frog to become a princess.

Historically Speaking

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