So how do you plan a perfect 60th birthday? You don’t. You just let it happen or at least that’s how it worked out perfect for me. I really dreaded turning sixty and I did a lot of whining about it for maybe a month before my birthday. Loud whining. Okay, so maybe it leaned toward ranting and sobbing, but let’s not judge.
I have recently gained twenty-pounds and my hair was burned and butchered last February with a subsequent offer of the famous Florida retiree discount the same day. (A first for me.) To make it worse, my hair has only grown two inches since then and my confidence has definitely taken a hit because of the hair massacre and the fat belly. However, that’s another story. (The Day I Lost My Cute)
WARNING! Although I detest long, rambling stories about nothing, stories you have to wade through to discover if it is hopefully about something, this might be one.
Okay, about my birthday. I meet with several women each week for a writer’s meeting and that is where my birthday celebration began.
We had decided to honor each other’s day of birth a few years ago.
A.) Because we care about each other and B.) We all love cake.
Especially my Mile High, Cool Whip, Jell-O Cake adorned with fresh strawberries, blue berries and kiwi slices. Or my Cool Whip smothered chocolate butterscotch pudding cake.
So, as I got ready for this meeting, I knew it was my birthday week and I had my usual “don’t make a fuss over me, I’m not worth it” jitters bordering on a full-fledged panic attack. I asked myself why I loved to give and why I was so uncomfortable when receiving, but as usual, I had no answer.
My friend Deanne picked me up, which was a good thing as I might have given in to the jitters and gone AWOL. Monica was hosting this week and she made an incredible dinner with all the extras including a special lamb dish just for me. She had also invited several friends I’d never met and I teased her that she had hired guests for my party.
These guests turned out to be unique, creative, unforgettable women and it was a pleasure visiting with them and my writing friends all evening. I read my August Is Gone story (https://womenwhothinktoomuch.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/august-is-gone/) and I swore that not another August would pass me by without something special taking place, something just for me that I had never done before.
Oh ya, and let me tell you about the cakes. Three cakes. One even had a desk and a computer decoration. A strawberry cheesecake (my favorite) a fancy white cake and the best chocolate/Almond Joy/Cool Whip truffle cake I have ever tasted. Mmmm. My new favorite.
My friend Minzie had made the chocolate cake and it was just incredible. I am allergic to chocolate, so I hesitated and then took two Benadryl tablets. I ate two huge pieces of chocolate cake and a piece of cheesecake. I’m allergic to whole cheese products too, but I was in a devilish mood and I did tell everyone my Epi-pen was in my purse.
The crowd sang Happy Birthday to me! Then I got presents that only women who really know you could bestow. A striking black frame enclosed the ISBN from my book, Women Who Think Too Much (available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/287988 ) and Minzie’s daughter had talked to her about me and then written me a poem that I will treasure always. Minzie also gave me a gorgeous new journal, a friendship pen and a book, “Why Men Make Bad Pets.” Monica gave me an original oil painting. Beautiful, thoughtful presents.
Late into the night, we ate and we talked. I went home feeling so blessed to have these writing friends in my life. That night spun me into a new mood for my birthday week and I actually stopped whining. (Ya, ranting, sobbing, whatever.)
I was sound asleep when the doorbell rang on Saturday morning. My honey got up and answered the door and came back carrying the biggest plant my son and his fiancé had ever sent me. As I held it for a picture, I could barely hang onto it because it was so heavy. (Big isn’t always better, but when turning sixty, it helps.) With tears streaming, I proudly placed it as a centerpiece on my dining room table.
That afternoon, my honey takes me to the store and I pick out a strawberry cheesecake for a birthday dessert tomorrow.
I stay up and hug every minute till midnight cause I will never be 59 again. Maybe in some parallel world, I am still 17. Gotta love imagination.
The big day is here. I am sixty.
Our little dog is sick so we decide to stay home with her. We hang out while my honey and I talk about what I’d like for a present. I usually choose money to go shopping because I love to do a major hit on the clearance racks for clothes, but that thought doesn’t excite me this year. I have gained twenty pounds thanks to cortisone shots for bursitis and I’m not in the mood to try on a bigger size. Much bigger.
The week before my birthday, I had suggested that he search out an easel in the thrift stores and he didn’t seem too excited about it.
Late afternoon, he goes to Wal-Mart and comes home with a collapsible easel, three different sizes of canvas boards and acrylic paints. I was thrilled that he remembered until I realize, oh no, now I have to paint or he will feel bad! I have been collecting painting supplies and promising myself that I would experiment with painting for about four years, so it really was time to paint-up or shut-up.
Well, I walked around thinking about it for an hour and then I traced a picture of Tinker Bell onto a canvas and I started playing with the paints.
I only had about five colors but I was happy with the choices. I spent about four hours doing my first painting and I painted over Tinker Bell so many times that I lost her body. She morphed into a long black wig sitting on a brown toadstool. I didn’t care. I just let my hand work with my imagination. I was amazed that I had painted anything and I was quite thrilled to have done something that I had never done before–on my 60th birthday!
I got the same rush from painting that I did from writing and thanks to the present of an easel from my guy, I had now fulfilled a fantasy. I had painted.
As I started to throw my first work of art in the trash, stating, “What an ugly fairy,” my husband said, “No! Keep it! It is your first painting.”
So I signed it and left it on the easel to dry. When I looked at my painting the next morning, the dry colors seemed softer and my work had taken on a personality. In the days since, I have actually grown to love it. Of course, I love what it symbolizes more than the actual painting. I also showed it to my daughter and she told me that I had painted a mirror image of her first (very bad) tattoo. Spooky, cause I didn’t even remember her tattoo and it was covered long ago.
Okay, so here comes the grand finale. My husband of over thirty years had told me that I could have anything that would make me happy for my birthday. He had no clue what to get me because he already buys me anything I even think I want, within our means and sometimes even beyond our means.
All I could think about is how much I wanted to go to Sanibel Beach. For about three years, my friend Deanne (she spent every summer there when she was growing up) has been telling me about the huge conch shells (and more) that wash in with the tide and she had the shell collection to prove it. I invite the writing girls to go on an RV trip to Sanibel, but in the planning stage, it gets down to Deanne and me. My honey tells me to rent a room instead of fussing with the RV and I think that sounds good. He does the research and reserves us a room at the Holiday Inn on Sanibel for three nights, three days. It looks tropical and beautiful, but I don’t trust advertising pictures so we will see. PS I don’t drink but it was 5:00 o’clock somewhere!
To Be Continued