I’m not big on birthdays. When I was much younger I always reminded everyone of mine. As I got older and began experiencing the distance between my family and me, I stopped the reminders as an experiment to see what would happen. You know what happened? Nothing!
There were several years when no one remembered my birthday, or if they did I’d get a call a week or two afterwards explaining how busy they were. My mother remembered most often – not always just most often. When my dad married my second stepmother, I always got cards – often late, but she was very organized so they always arrived.
My little sister and I were both struggling financially for quite a while, so we never got in the habit of cards. Phone calls were more likely for us, but we always lived so far apart it wasn’t easy to communicate. My older sister lived about 45 minutes away from me for the 11 years I lived in Chicago. She never remembered my birthday unless I reminded her.
I always remembered their birthdays and being a dutiful middle child I called – always within a day of the actual date. And they always forgot.
Tuesday was my mother’s 87th birthday. I called her today - Wednesday. I pretended to be cheerful and happy to talk to her. I wasn’t. But I did my duty.
Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday. I would have called. I would have done my duty.
I wish I liked birthdays.