This past year as I was approaching my 91st birthday, I didn’t think of it as being that important. “Don’t give me a party, “ I told my children. They had celebrated my 88th with a huge surprise party, because 88 in Japanese is a lucky number, the Japanese character for 88 being the same character for their staple, rice. “Hold off until I reach 95,” I added. (If I ever do!). Reading the recent obituaries in the New York Times, ( a daily activity) I’ve been cheered by seeing that more than half of those listed are only in their 70s or 80s,. I’ve surpassed them already! Being in one’s 90s is a much more honorable age at which to die. Actually, I started to think that while becoming 90 is not that important, you’re only turning a bend in the road, but when you reach 91 you’re now onto what is probably the last road of your life. Anyway by the time I reached 91 which was Jan. I6, I had changed my point of view, but too late for a party. Besides, my son Chris and family were vacationing in New Zealand. My daughter Ingrid said she would be coming in from New Jersey to take me out to dinner the Sunday before, but I declined because we were in one of those deep freezes that precludes going outside. I suggested she come the following Sunday.
I didn’t know that I would start celebrating early, but my friend Ellie dropped in on Sunday bringing me a lovely lavender, silk scarf and a vial of a lavender essence that emits the most pleasing aroma. On my birthday I woke up to a beautiful and loving greeting from Susan, the leader of our writing workshop. Next, Besilla, the wonderful aide who helps me out twice a week, appeared bringing me exactly what I needed – a bouquet of pretty flowers, a purple and apple green (like the color of my kitchen walls) oven mitt and a microwave cover for my dinner plates. Then the front door bell rang; a delivery man arrived bringing with him a touch of Spring – the sweetest looking bouquet of yellow roses, black eyed susans, and white daisies, a gift from my daughter and son-in-law. When Besilla was leaving she noticed a bag hanging on the the doorknob which contained a bouquet of dried lavender flowers and a small luscious looking chocolate mousse cake, but with no clue as to who had left them. Such a loving and thoughtful surprise made my heart leap with joy! That afternoon I went downstairs to MRHS, our social services center, to celebrate with the other residents who have birthdays in January. The monthly event coincided this year with the very day of my birthday. The most delicious cake is always provided at these functions, and I returned with a huge slice of dark chocolate cake with vanilla butter icing which I enjoyed with a mug of loose green tea from Japan.
There were a myriad of “happy birthdays”on Facebook, and a phone visit with my daughter who said another present would be coming but giving no clues as to what it would be. I had emailed my children a couple of weeks before that if they were wondering what to give me for my birthday, I’d love to receive a lightweight lavender colored wool blanket. The one I have had for many years looks like an old rag and offends my aesthetic sensibilities! Several days later Ingrid told me she had no success finding a lavender one made of wool online. She had turned the problem over to her brother, because with all those sheep in New Zealand, my requirements were bound to be fulfilled. That evening my son and family tried to call me but the phone line kept going dead after one sentence or phrase. Judging by this lack of success, I decided that New Zealand must be at some other end of the world from Japan, because the calls from there sound as if they’re coming from next door. I then received an email from my son saying that they had found a present for me, but it might take a while because they had to ship it. I didn’t have the chutzpah to ask if it was lavender colored. Other emails showed the family enjoying one of the country’s highlights – wine tasting at the vineyards, adding that I would be receiving a shipment for my birthday from Craggy Range, their oldest and most prestigious winery. Added to the case that they sent me for Christmas, I’ll be celebrating my 91st birthday until I’m 92! It was another wonderful bonus day!