Birthdays have never been particularly important or even interesting for me except for when my children were growing up. We did celebrate grandly then with the birthday girl or boy getting all kinds of goodies that I had made for them, with four it was a lot less expensive that way and even more fun for me making everyone a special present. The birthday boy or girl got a stack of goodies, but the others each got one special gift. As a result they all looked forward to each other’s birthdays and it was great fun. My youngest daughter paid me back this past November when my sons were here for their birthdays and she sent presents for all of us. That was a grand surprise.
However, at my current age, for the most part the only good thing about birthdays is that I’m still around to celebrate one at all – if I choose celebrate. My kids seem to feel pretty much the same way and other than a call to say “I love you”, we pretty much let them slide by without a lot of hoohah. So with this new writing assignment, I kind of sat staring at my computer screen, hoping some marvelous inspiration would float down and invade my thoughts. When nothing happened and the week was nearly gone, I decided to take a look at the websites that had been included with our instructions.
I discovered that P. B. Shelley and Louie Armstrong had both been born on August 4, too, and I wondered why the same muse wasn’t hovering over my shoulder. There were a number of football players but that didn’t offer any inspiration. Then when I looked at events that had occurred on my birthday, I saw momentous things like Howard Stern withdrawing from the New York gubernatorial race and a truck carrying millions of bees overturning on a New York parkway. Amazing! As I scrolled down the page I saw a name that I knew! Kathy Whitworth, a girl who was born in the small west Texas town where I grew up and who I had gone to school with! I surfed around and discovered she was among the world’s first leading women golfers and had won one of her first prestigious tournaments on my birthday! I’m pretty sure she didn’t plan it that way though.
I also discovered that while warming up before the 5th inning Yankee Dave Winfield accidentally killed a seagull! And Prince’s album Purple Rain went to #1. Carl Lewis won a gold medal in the 100-meter dash in the summer Olympics in Los Angeles and France performed a nuclear test. John Lennon and Yoko began recording “Double Fantasy”, Oliver North was assigned to White House duty and President Carter established the Department of Energy. Anne Frank was arrested in Amsterdam by the Nazis and the first train of Jews departed for Auschwitz from Mechelen, Belgium. And Dom Perignon invented champagne. And all on my birth date – August 4!
So this has turned into an intriguing assignment, a great history lesson -- and a chance to observe and reflect on the funny, mundane, tragic and everything in between that has taken place on just this one day in history. An opportunity to become aware of so much more than just a birthday, but a date to be celebrated and cherished as each day of all our lives should be.