Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heavenly Birthday at age 62!

What a day! I woke up loaded for bear about politics and obsessively followed the process on TV throughout the day, something I actually love to do (get obsessed about news, even though I really don't understand most of it at all). I had been saying for weeks that I didn't want a birthday with presents or any fuss made. At my age a birthday card is very much appreciated, and really is enough...

So I went off to perform ushering duties at my dear little St Peter's church in Cape May Point, last Sunday of the season. Those duties include the old-fashioned ringing of a bell in a steeple by pulling on a rope. The usher's duties include ringing the bell for a glorious full minute at 10:30, presumably to wake folks up or alert them to imminent services. At 10:50 or so, the choir assembles on the porch in preparation for a simple procession as the organist ceases to play at exactly 11. At exactly 11, the usher rings the bell three times only to begin the procession.

To my delight, my 3 year old grand-daughter and my daughter showed up for the 11 o'clock service, Maya bringing me a tiny birthday pumpkin right up the steps of the church. I had little Maya's earnest help as I pulled the bell-rope, something I feel certain will stick in her memory forever, bonding her to this special little church. Not only that, but she stood holding my hand as I read the announcements after the exchange of the peace, and she helped me, barefoot and with perfect reverence, deliver the offering to the priest during the Doxology. What a day! Later Maya showed me a buttercup and put it under her chin so I could see that her under-chin glowed yellow - meaning, as her great-great-great grandmother taught, down through the generations, that Maya likes butter. But that wasn't the end of it!

In addition to all this I had the very sweetest cards/texts/conversations possible with a daughter in Texas and a daughter in New York. I heard from some relatives and old friends. Then I had a fabulous loving dinner, hosted by my son and his partner, cooked by my son in honor of the ancestors, my father and grandfather's favorite dinner: Swiss Steak and mashed potatoes, with two daughters, their husbands,my grand-daughter and another couple. Maya brought a balloon and gave me one of her baby dolls for a present. There were wonderful birthday cards and fun gifts.One daughter brought my favorite cheese, Prima Donna Red, and in additon to the sublime red wine served, it was heavenly. But that wasn't all!

One of the dinner guests was a Belgian pianist from New York, former Yale professor, Mikail, who good-naturedly played silly tunes we requested while we all sang along- church hymns, showtunes, torch songs etc., so wonderful to sing at the top of our lungs - my son and daughters and sons-in-law.... Mikhail allowed Maya to sit on his lap and accompany him as he held her hands under his without missing a beat. Then, responding humbly to our insistence that he play "something classical", he blew us as all away, humbling us in turn, with beautiful Schubert pieces that brought tears to our eyes....

Happy Birthday to all, with love and appreciation, and Good Night. How lucky I am to live to the ripe old age of 62. "After this", as my father always said, "everything's gravy."

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