Happy birthday wishes to Ken

It is my birthday on Friday (April 29). As I write this, another year has gone, slipped away overnight never to be retrieved, and I find myself remembering birthdays past (as I am inclined to do), where I wander around in my memory searching in corners for treasured moments.
Birthdays that included new skipping ropes and marbles and baseball gloves, a blue CCM bike with white streamers on the handlebars from Don Law’s hardware store when I was 10, a pony, and ishgy-gishgy cake that became the symbol of birthdays for all time for me.
My spring birthday was a day to feel special; to stand a little bit in the light—applauded for being born, as if we have a choice for such things.
In school, it was Ken Hampton and I sharing the day, as though we belonged to a secret society with our very own handshake that no one else could know.
It was like being on the inside of something special that only we could understand and no one could take any piece of the day away from us. It was our birthday.
Birthdays are memories of looking back at those parts of us we forget: the tree-climbing part, the frog-catching part, the hopscotch and home run kind of parts, the finding a four-leaf clover. The part of us that believed we would be an astronaut or a veterinarian or a fireman, when politically-correct adjustments weren’t required.
Birthdays are wishes for the perfect sunny day when it is not too hot and a gentle breeze lifts our hair; a breeze that is infused with the smell of blossoms and spring rain as it brushes over our face.
Birthdays are about imagining those missing or misplaced pieces that would make our life complete. Birthdays are about gratitude and having earned the folds around our eyes, and the pleats under our chin, and the lines next to our mouth that says we’ve laughed a lot.
Our hair may have lost its colour and our tummy has lost its smooth firm line from being stretched to kingdom come with pregnancies, but we remain the perfect version of the “me” we used to be.
If only we could appreciate the value of growing old; of remembering those who didn’t have the option—those who were gone before life had told them all the stories.
Birthdays should make us smile, whether anyone remembers us or not, whether we get cards or gifts or telephone calls, because we remember. We remember all the milestones, all the ages we couldn’t wait to be, and now those birthdays are the collective of who we are—the whole of us.
Happy birthday, Ken. I hope you had as grand a day as I did. I was thinking of you, and remembering dodge ball and scrub baseball games and all the fun that Alberton Central provided for us.
So glad I got to share this day with you; with you and Willie Nelson.
wendistewart@live.ca

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