Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Birthdays have never been particularly good for me. Rarely have I had anybody celebrate mine. Oh, when I was a kid, my parents would have a small cake, and I’d get a few pieces of clothing as gifts, but my friends were never invited, and we never had a party. The closest I ever had as a party was that my parents, since it was my birthday, took us out to supper and I would have the honor of picking the restaurant.
One year, I wanted to have pizza. My mom and dad decided on Marion’s, which upset me greatly. Not that they changed their minds, but I didn’t want Aunt Marion’s pizza. I wanted to go out. To give you some idea of my age, Aunt Marion lived in Texas, about a thousand miles from where we were living in Ohio. As it turns out, there is a FABULOUS pizza restaurant where we did live called Marion’s Pizza, so it was a pretty good birthday, at least by our standards, after all.
Most of my birthdays have been somber affairs or reflection on the past year, my failures and shortcomings, and thoughts of what I will do differently for next year. My “celebrations” have somehow devolved into a summer sausage, hunk of cheese and sparkling cider while sitting alone in a park somewhere as I lick my emotional wounds. It was actually worse when I was married, as my so-called “beloved” bride wouldn’t allow me so much as to mention my upcoming birthday. She would actually seem angry at me for having a birthday coming up, saying that just because it’s my birthday it doesn’t make me special.
My good friend is having her birthday today. Unfortunately, she is too far for me to see her, but I truly hope it’s a very special birthday for her. Unlike my sad little life, she actually has several children, grandchildren, and is still very close with her siblings and relatives. As much as I adore her, if you want to know the truth, I hope she doesn’t even think of me today. Not because I don’t want her to, but rather, because I hope she has such a marvelous birthday full of joy and surprises that I don’t even cross her mind.
Birthdays are different today from when I was young. Social media sites remind us of when birthdays are coming up, and its easy to send quick greetings and birthday wishes. I almost always do, with very simple wishes and nothing elaborate. It feels wrong to me; some of my social media friends are far more important to me personally than others, as I’m sure is true for my readers. But I do one more thing. Every time I see somebody post birthday greetings; I add my name in the comments. For some of my friends, that means I’ll wish them a happy birthday maybe a dozen times. It might seem excessive, but the truth is that every time, as simple as it is, I mean it.
I felt the need to explain this to a friend of mine. It all goes back to my philosophy that I celebrate the day that the people who mean so much to me were brought into this world. Every time I wish somebody a happy birthday, I am trying to tell them how happy I am that they are a part of my life. Every gift I give is my way of trying to repay the gifts they have given me just by being a part of my world.
You are important to people, and you have people who are important to you. Birthdays are just ways to celebrate them and their presence in your life. Imagine how dark your life would be without your friends, your family and your loved ones. It’s a bleak and miserable world. Today, I had a friend do something marvelous for me. Without my asking her to, she and her significant other and friends helped clean out a storage unit I no longer need. It was filled with boxes and belongings that I just cannot keep, and it had to have taken her hours, and perhaps all day, to clean it for me. I was ashamed to have left it, but the truth is I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it all. Out of the kindness of her heart, and out of her love for me (no, not romantic love, but the love shared between friends), she sacrificed her day to help me out. What a wonderful place the world is because of her.
If my readers will indulge me, I would like to take a moment out for a personal comment towards my young, and stunningly beautiful, friend. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays and thank you for being a part of my world. As for the rest of my readers, you all mean the world to me. The day that you came into this world is a day worthy of celebration.