Happy Birthday Dear Void.

Every January 18, as soon as I wake up, I’m immediately aware that it’s my dad’s birthday.  My bleary, sleep-encrusted eyes glance at his joyful face, smiling at me from the photo atop my chest of drawers.

“I miss you,” I say, sometimes as a whisper aloud, sometimes as just a thought in my head,  “Happy Birthday.”

At some point in the day every January 26, usually when I’m writing a check or have some other cause to glance at the date, I remember that it is Dan R’s birthday.

I have only seen Dan a handful of times in the last 30 years – at a couple of high school reunions, at his dad’s funeral, during an overnight visit to his home in upstate New York on my way home from a biking vacation in Vermont…

But I’ve remembered his birthday every year since we met on the Bob-lo boat in 9th grade.

I remembered it even before facebook started reminding me.  I sometimes interact with his wife on facebook, but I have absolutely no interaction with him except to write, “Happy Birthday old friend,” (double entendre) on his wall every January 26.

Every February 2 I wish my childhood friend, Patty Holden, a happy birthday.  “Happy Birthday Patty,” I say into the void.  Haven’t seen her in at least 28 years but I remember her day without fail.

This morning, as I was doing the dishes I should have done last night, I thought of the guy I dated in college.  I think of him every July 31.

I understand why I always remember my dad, who’s been celebrating his birthdays in heaven these last 20 years, but I wonder why it is that I remember the other three.

Of course I always remember the birthdays of my sisters and my mom, and I think of my daughter and the hub all day long on their birthdays.

And I occasionally remember the birthdays of other old friends and boyfriends whom I haven’t seen in many years, but why is it that I remember those three every year without fail?

Anyway, Happy Birthday Ron Sobel.


faith, Jesus, Light

Stacking Stones: My Cousin Jim

In uncertain times it helps to remember Jim. I did not see him often because he grew up in Florida and I grew up in Michigan.  My family visited his family each year, but he was a few years older, and a boy, so we didn’t interact much.

When Jim was 19 his face was smashed in a bad automobile accident.  His father – an oral surgeon – and a team of plastic surgeons put his face back together.

And then he dove into a gravel pit to help his girlfriend, who was tangled in a branch, and he broke his neck.

In the hospital, on life support, my cousin Jim kept asking his mom to make sure the machines keeping him alive were securely plugged in to the wall sockets.  He worried that someone might trip over the cords and pull them loose.

And then one morning, as my aunt entered his hospital room, she saw peace on her son’s face.  He told her that an angel had visited him.  He was going to die and it was okay.  He was not afraid.

Jim died that afternoon.

But that morning an angel gave a gift to him, to his mom, to me and now to you.  I treasure that gift in my heart and pull it out whenever I need a reminder.

Fear not.




I made them last Thanksgiving on a nostalgic whim.  With the very first bite I was back at Thanksgivings past, in the basement of my aunt’s and uncle’s house.

The basement had a large empty room with a cement floor.  It was great for rollerskating – we’d get up some speed, grab one of the support poles and whip around it. My sisters and cousins and I played many make shift games down there, but I was specifically transported into “caught by the light.”

Here’s how we played:

Midway down one of the walls was a lavatory.  One person would go into the lav, shut the door and turn on the light.  Then we turned off all the lights in the room making it pitch black. Everyone would run back and forth across the blackened room.  As soon as the person in the lav started to open the door, the runners would have to freeze.  The door opener had the power to cast a broad light or a narrow light.  Anyone caught in it was out.

It just now occurred to me that I was happily “caught in the Light”  many years later and now I am forever in.

Chanel No. 5

Whenever I walk through the aisles of beauty and catch a whiff of Chanel No. 5, I am in Florida at Christmastime.  In the large kitchen of my beautiful, sophisticated, Chanel No. 5 wearing Aunt Annabelle.  We’re doing something special like making popcorn balls.  Yep, Chanel No. 5 always equals Aunt Annabelle.

The Singing Nun.  Johnny Mathis – especially Up, Up and Away. Maria Callas.  Edith Piaf. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  Nancy Sinatra – These Boots are Made for Walkin’.  The soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar – Everything’s Alright and I Don’t Know How to Love Him.

Those were the sounds of my childhood.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”


It’s All About the Memories

Five things I would regretfully not save from my burning house:

The Love Pants

I was browsing in the Love Shack on Mackinac Island when I discovered The Love Pants.  They were groovy.  My friend dared me to try them on in all their spandexed glory.  “Only if you buy them for me,” I teased.  I tried them on but he didn’t buy.  So all weekend I was obnoxious, “Buy me the loooooove pants!”  We had ridden our bikes from Charlevoix to the Mackinac Island ferry and then another two miles, once we got off the ferry, to our destination.  Well over 80 miles in one day – up steep hills once we were north of Harbor Springs.

I had earned the right to wear the pants.

But alas, I left the island pantsless.

A few months later my sisters threw me a fortieth birthday party.  The gift that one guest came bearing was, yep, The Love Pants!

I put them on immediately and wore them for the rest of the day.  I looked darn good in them, too. If it weren’t for anonymity, I’d post the photo to prove it.  I’ve not worn them since, but I did loan them to a friend who rocked them on her fortieth, which was fun.

I would really miss those pants and the memories that sit on the top shelf of my closet.

The Love Pants, dusted off for a quick photo

The Love Pants, dusted off for a quick photo

Bike Trip Photos

I would miss the many photos of my bike trips through Vermont and through the Canadian Rockies.  Good, healthy, glorious times.

Cold Hard Cash

I have a stash of cold hard cash.  Whenever I receive an honorarium for speaking I stick it in an envelope.  On the nights I don’t feel like cooking I use some of it to take my family out to dinner.  I also use it for our annual mother/daughter road trip.  I’d definitely regret not grabbing that.

All the stuff from my daughter’s childhood.

The box of baby stuff, the folder of school pictures, the reports cards, awards and art projects, all the precious gifts made from her sweet little hands and the boxes and boxes of photos documenting all the precious events in her life.

The stack of cards in my nightstand drawer.

All the valentines, birthday and anniversary cards from my hubster, my really-good-at-it, best-card-giving hub.

And all the loving mother’s day and birthday cards from my daughter.  Whenever I need a little pick-me-up I read through some of those cards.  Yeah, I would definitely miss those.

Looking up at my list I realize that it is all about the memories, the few minutes I take here and there to revisit the best of times and some cash to make a few new ones.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist