I was born in May in the drowsy mid-50's in a sweet little town in Indiana. We lived on a farm, though we weren't farmers. We were just the renters, but the farm was working all around us. Cows and tractors and lots of fields full of growing things. Woods to explore and creeks to ford and all the time in the world to do it. Winters were cold and white and creeks and springs and wells froze solid.
But May was my birthday month (and my Mom's and older brother's) and it was made for me. It was a time when the first of May was still celebrated as 'May Day' and children made baskets for hand-picked flowers and hung them on doorknobs. (I don't think anyone anywhere does that anymore. But I remember it). I felt that the whole month was made to celebrate my birthday. And I knew that, no matter how drab the month may have started, by my birthday the whole world would be the most exquisite green. Only much later did I discover that the gem stone for May was the Emerald, which was only fitting; a green stone for the greenest month.
My earliest memory of a birthday may just really be of the pictures I have seen taken of that day. Mom dressed me in a navy blue dress (made out of her wedding dress!) with a white lace Peter Pan color, black tights, white anklets and black Mary Janes. We went to a park and had a picnic. What I remember was a huge slide that did a twist and a turn before it deposited me laughing out loud at the bottom. I know this because the picture shows me with this amazed, smiling, open-mouthed look on my face emerging from that slide.
I have spent most of my life with that look on my face.
Somewhere along the way birthdays got unpopular. People didn't claim their birthdays or didn't want anyone to know it was their birth day. I never 'got' it, but I played along for many years. I pretended that I didn't really care. Birthdays were narcissistic events or at least proved you were getting older, which wasn't a good thing, and should be ignored. I hated it, but I went along with it.
Until I turned 50! Five - Oh. Something about 50 needs to be celebrated. I threw myself a girlfriends' party and asked everyone (God help me, I did!) to wear red hats and my friends, being the amazing group of women that they are - all of them - did! (I am actually a little embarrassed about that, now, but at the time I thought it fitting.) And my husband, who is the love of my life, actually planned a surprise party for the next night and all of the women who were with me the night before came BACK the following night with their husbands for Round 2 of Ruth's 50th.
The cat along with the red hat were out of the bag. I couldn't pretend any longer that I didn't care about my birthday and decided that, no matter where I was or with whom, I would love my birthday out loud along with all that it meant.
Because my birthday meant that my mother, who loved me so much that she prayed for a little girl to come into her life, had an answer to her prayer. My birthday meant that I got the chance to come here - to this beautiful planet - to learn who I was and figure out why I was here. It meant friends and school and first kisses and swimming lessons. It meant I could meet Tom and learn to love him the way he always deserved to be loved - and to be loved unconditionally by him. And it meant that I could give birth to my own precious babies and finally know the indescribable love that my mother felt for me. The circle was complete.
So, somewhere along the way, when I was celebrating another birthday - usually on the road in some kind of meeting or training class - I let people know it was my birthday and that, if I could, I would wear a tiara all day long in celebration. When asked another year what I would do for my birthday I mentioned the likelihood of yard or housework, but always with that imaginary tiara in place!
And this year my very precious friends made that tiara a reality.
Thank you Jenny. Thank you Helen. Thank you Tom. Thank you Lauren and David. Thank you mom.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This life hasn't always been easy, but it has always been an adventure just like that spiral slide. What more could we really ask for?