Thoughts about a milestone birthday coming up for me in September have stirred unpleasant memories of past significant transitions.
My 21st birthday came just two weeks after I married the "man of my dreams" (husband #1). After a brief honeymoon clouded by a surprise visit from his extended family, a sprained ankle, and a raging bladder infection, we camped our way across country to Chicago where we were to take up residence in married student housing while #1 pursued a degree at McCormick Theological Seminary. When we arrived in Chicago, the temperature and humidity were in the high 90s and our tiny apartment was so filthy we couldn't move in until we scrubbed it from top to bottom. It was hard to determine what was perspiration and what was wash water dripping on the floor. The only positive experience was a dinner out at an old German restaurant downtown.
The 30th was somewhat of an improvement. Husband #2 (it was all down hill after such an auspicious start with #1) helped planned one of those surprise parties that everyone knows is happening including the birthday girl. My job was to pretend to be pleasantly taken back by the well meaning friends and family who jumped out from all corners of the house even though I dislike unsurprising surprise parties. At least I still use the salad spinner my aunt gave me that night.
Another botched surprise party wasn't the worst part of my 40th birthday. The most awful event of the day was the discovery of an $18,000 mistake I had made on a furniture order for a large corporate client. One of the partners in the small design firm I worked for, was prepared to make it my last birthday. Weeks later the whole mess was sorted out, but it was too late to salvage my memory of the day.
All I can say about my 50th is that I spent the day caring for my beloved mother who died three days later. Husband #3 (the love of my life) did the best he could to ease my pain and distract me with a pleasant dinner out.
After dredging up memories of these unforgettable birthdays, I think maybe I will pass on the one coming up next month. I would be happy to just spend a quiet uneventful day with the love of my life.