I just collected another one and am beginning to feel like a greedy hoarder. Started off innocently enough with the cake face in my highchair, as my Mom captured that occasion in black and white. I progressed, with pail in hand, grabbing Easter eggs on my fourth. If I survive another seven years, I can revert to my old ways and do that it again.
Birthdays seem to make one look forward and back. Bought my first car on my eighteenth, a Mini-Cooper in 1971. Transferred the title that day and when I came out of the licensing office, it wouldn’t start. I loved that car, but it didn’t love me. The next year, my parents bought me a gold watch, flexible band and all. Didn’t take much time after that to get in trouble.
Got married after collecting twenty-three of them, had thirty when my mom was alive and one more before I became a dad. My forty-eighth was big. As the house manager for a benefit concert, the performer sang an impromptu song about me to 1,200 in the audience. On my fiftieth, my dad was a surprise dinner guest. Didn’t know it at the time, but we only had two more together.
Now my birthday is sandwiched between National Weed Day and Earth Day. I fit in there somewhere and share the date with John Muir, Queen Elizabeth and my attention whore, little brother around here, the Space Needle. Learned over the years world’s fair is a misnomer, but even so, I was flooded with love via phone calls, packages and internet messages from near and farther away than ever before.
Don’t know how many more birthdays I’ll collect, but I was acutely aware and appreciative this time around the sun. So, in seven years, I’ll pick up the pail and hunt for more Easter eggs. And then eleven years after that, I’ll finally hang up my bucket of birthdays as my grandchildren, who haven’t been born yet, will take pictures on whatever the newest gadget is of me bibbed in a wheelchair getting cake faced. Flying my own flag, I collected years like no other. Simple, complicated and priceless.