Sweet Birthday Memories

5-month-old Jay March 1973

What special memories do you associate with birthdays? Do you smile as you ponder a long-ago celebration? I like remembering my 34th birthday when my husband surprised me with a gathering of dear friends at our Michigan supper club.

How about the children in your life? What scenes make you smile? I still ponder my daughter Holly’s 8th birthday when she and several classmates decided to decorate cupcakes with elaborate frosting designs. And I remember when Jay, my then 11-year-old son, asked his friends not to give him a gift at his party but to bring a dollar for missions.

In fact, today is Jay’s birthday. And while I rejoice at this milestone, I am mindful he now is older than his dad, my husband, was before brain cancer swept in and changed our family forever. But I have choices: I can concentrate on what we as a family have lost or on what we have left. So on this special day, I again choose to ponder our many blessings. And I invite you to stroll down Memory Lane with me—and perhaps remember special birthday moments in your own life.

On our happy October day years ago, the doctor said, “Mrs. Aldrich, you have a son” just as my baby howled at having been forced from his warm, dark sanctuary and thrust into a cold, noisy, brightly lit room. And I marveled at how those howls stopped as the perfect little human thrust his thumb into his mouth, took two or three sucks and then discarded that activity in favor of more howling.

The two nurses tending him chuckled and turned to me. “I’ve been a nurse for 14 years, and I’ve never seen a baby suck his thumb so quickly,” one said.

“And split it out so fast when he realized it wasn’t yielding anything,” the other one said. “You’ve got a smart little feller.”

I smiled. No argument there.

Now I’m remembering his impish grin as he’d feed his breakfast oatmeal to our Scottish Terrier, MacDuff. And his glee as he took his first steps into my outstretched arms. And the name Ollie Duck he gave his baby sister, Holly, when we brought her home. And how as a 4-year-old he rode the red and yellow Big Wheel cycle up and down our sidewalk for hours at a time. And the endless Knock-Knock jokes. And his love of reading in fourth grade but resistance to book reports. And his sweet bedtime prayers.

Yes, I wish his dad had lived to see the fine man our son has become. I know his dad would be proud of his college degree and chosen profession—and would congratulate him on his choice of a wife. And they would enjoy discussing politics and religion and economics. But those scenes play out only in my imagination.

I’m back to choices. I can lament the lost experiences or I can rejoice in the Lord’s Presence and how He helped us build a new life as a family of three. Thus, I choose to smile at the many good memories my mind and heart hold. By concentrating on what I have left instead of what I have lost, I see the joy in each new day. And that makes birthdays all the sweeter.

How about you? What birthday memories do you ponder? I’d love to have you share those with me on Facebook.

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About sandrapaldrich

Sandra P. Aldrich, author and popular speaker, loves the Lord, family and all things Appalachian. Isaiah 41:9-10
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