Thursday, July 16, 2015


The cushion of thoughtfulness that permeated my birthday yesterday eases me through today as well.  I’m astounded that so many people took the time to email or text kind wishes, or post them on Facebook.  Maryanne, a harp sister, reminds me in an Oprah videolink she sends that birthdays are about celebrating blessings and accomplishments during the year that has passed, rather than a count-down to one’s inevitable destiny.  I couldn’t agree more.  

Teleported back to Sunday evening, I am in a different chair, this one around a dining room table in our son’s home.  Daniel, his wife and their nine-month-old son are there as well, and my husband.   Our daughter has joined us through the magic of FaceTime.  It’s almost time for bed for our nine-month-old son grandson.   

“The family is assembled, so we’ll do the birthday presentation now,” Dan announces.  My birthday is in three days.  Being together is gift enough, but it seems they’ve done more.  I look down to spy an image of a football field projected on the ipad. 

“Do you know where this is?” he asks.  Football.  Me.  Must be Mosaic.  Game tickets?  Wouldn’t that be great?

“Not Mosaic.  Look again.”  I do. 

“It’s Investors’ Field,” I self-correct.   Game tickets in Winnipeg?  I’m good with that.

“The game is later in the season,” he specifies.  Wow.  The Banjo Bowl in September.  That would be fantastic!

“Later than that,” he prods.  Later than that . . . . Oh!  The Grey Cup!  In Winnipeg in 2015.  At Investor’s Field.  The family has purchased Grey Cup tickets for me??!!  No!!!

By the time I have exclaimed my thanks and hugged everyone, the reality has set in.  My family, not at all a sports family, has indulged my passion for football.  My husband will make the ultimate sacrifice and attend the game with me.  At the end of November.  In Winnipeg.  I’m overwhelmed.  To be known and loved for who you are is the greatest gift ever.

Overcome with gratitude, I bask in the glow for days.   In my quiet moments, I reflect on the year that has passed, the momentous changes in my life and the comforting consistencies.

I am a grandmother.  I know the joy a smile from a baby can ignite in my heart, the soft smoothness of his cheek as he snuggles in a for a kiss, the vaporization of time as he sleeps in my arms, the child in me that resurrects when we play.
I have a son-in-law, the only one I will ever have.  A gem—steadfast, capable, accepting, with a wicked sense of humour to boot.

I can play the harp.  A year ago, I had no idea I would ever be a harpist.  In fact, it was in Cardiff, Wales, on my 2014 birthday, in a medieval pub, listening to a harpist and chatting with her, that the seed germinated, to explode a month later, an uncontrollable beanstalk.  Now, I lose myself in the challenge, find solace in the music and the sense of accomplishment, and value the network of harpists my new passion has uncovered.

I relive every minute of a family holiday in Palm Springs, the first family holiday since 2003, grateful for the additions—a daughter-in-law, a grandson, a son-in-law, and his parents. 

I continue to enjoy:
time, for now;
my remarkable family;
significant work;
inspiring colleagues;
opportunities for discovery and fulfillment;

Around another table now, stilled in reverie, I imbide the warmth of my neighbors, next door and across the street.  Over pizza, beer, and wine in the park my husband has created out of our backyard, we mark another milestone, this one in my own life, catch up on our children and our visitors, our travel plans, the highs and lows of our current projects, the news from the city.  We’ve watched our children grow, mourned our parents and spouses, celebrated anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and births.  We gather for no reason at all, and we watch over each other’s homes when we’re away.   The bond is indestructible.

I can’t explain why I am so lucky.    I can smile, though, freeze-frame the day, post it in my brain’s Instagram to recall when I feel down, and to remind me that birthdays are about gratitude, and to continue to rejoice for the right reasons in however many might be left.

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