A Memory: Roses and The Fab Four

We took my mom’s car that night for one reason–it was clean. My dad probably didn’t have time to clean all of the loose pork rinds and empty fast-food coffee cups out of the passenger seat of his vehicle in a manner befitting of an impromptu father-daughter movie date. He looked different to me as he sat behind the wheel of a low-profile sedan, but he was a good driver, and we were soon on our way.

Before we left the city limits–we went across the state line to Poplar Bluff to go to movies–he pulled over, parking next to a building where he frequently worked.

“Stay right here,” he said, stepping out of the car. He walked over to a rose bush, pulled out his pocket knife, and clipped a single rose that he brought back to me. I put it behind my ear, grinning. What eleven-year-old girl wouldn’t love that?

Roses have always had significant meaning for me. I was born on Valentine’s Day. I can’t help but make the connection, even if I’ve been shaking my head for a good many years (now) about sharing my day with that holiday. However, there was something I could depend on every year from my dad.

Every year, on my birthday, he sent me a single red rose in a vase.

Yes, I kept the cards.

Every year, he also did something else that became a tradition. He would call and sing. Sure, you’re probably thinking, “Duh. That’s, like, everyone’s tradition.”

Well, there’s tradition, and there’s tradition. Ours was a bit…unique to the family. The call usually went something like this:

Phone: Ring, ring…

Me (Answering Phone): Hello? (I knew who it was. Not sure why I had to answer with such a questioning tone.)

Pop: You ready?

Me: (Sigh.) All right…(pulling phone away from my ear)

Pop: THEY SAY IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! Nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuuu-uuuuh…WE’RE GONNA HAVE A GOOD TIME! Wah-wah-wah-wah. (He was really good with the wah pedal…vocally.)

Yep, he always had to hit me up with his solo, unplugged version of the birthday song by those lads from Liverpool, because we couldn’t be exactly like everyone else.

The conversation would continue, usually with me letting him know that I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be (insert age). His response was always the same.

“Beats the alternative.”

A few years back, the singing and the roses stopped. It wasn’t his fault; there was nothing that could be done to stop the illness that took him this past December.

I can’t help but wonder just how loudly he would’ve been singing this year. Perhaps I’ll just take it upon myself to sing my own version. Traditions like those are a way of keeping someone with you, as are the memories…like the memory of the eleven-year-old version of me riding next to my dad with a rose tucked behind my ear and a smile across my face.

An Observation: Older Or Wiser?

Well, Birthdaypaloozextravaganzmageddon 2018 has come and gone. I celebrated my perpetual 29th birthday by working (like most of us do, I suppose, unless the anniversary of your existence falls on a weekend).

Thrilled to be 29…again…

If you’ll recall, I also have to share my birthday with a teeny little holiday (read all about it here in case you’ve forgotten). But, enough about Valentine’s Day.

That sums it up.

I suppose I had a pretty good birthday this year. However, older doesn’t always equate to wiser. For example, I decided I was going to treat myself to some cupcakes. After about six of them, I “decided” to treat myself to a new pair of larger pants. (I forgot that once you celebrate your 29th birthday a few times, your metabolism starts to slow down…a lot. I’m now an avid collector of food marathon pants.)

Beyond that, though, my other birthday gift to myself was something I have needed for a while: a new computer. So, what do I need to do now? Transfer everything over to the new one.

That should be easy, right?

Confused Confusion GIF
Umm…where’s the “transfer” button?


I was visiting with a friend recently who was telling me all about building a new computer. I was smiling and nodding, pretending to understand everything (anything) about computers. I mean, I was excited the first time I figured out how to change my font to Comic Sans.

happy the office GIF
Nerd victory.

But, transferring everything over to a new computer? You might as well ask me to be the lead rocket surgeon on the SpaceX project. I know they can do a file transfer thingy (that’s highly technological terminology) for me at the store where I purchased the computer, but I already spent enough money on the computer itself, so I’d like to try to figure it out myself.

Stubborn? Sure. (Again, this is the part where older doesn’t necessarily equate to wiser.) Is it possible for me to do this?

Perhaps…by my next 29th birthday.

An Annual Event: Happy Valentine Birthday


Being born on Valentine’s Day isn’t as cute as it sounds. My whole life, I’ve heard from people who would say things like, “Oh, that explains why you’re so sweet. How precious!” or “Your parents got such a special gift that day!”

I’m happy for them. But, really…what did I get from this whole deal? As a lady who isn’t exactly enamored with the color pink or frilly, overly-girly things, all I really think I got was an annual explanation for the flower delivery guy.

“Here you go, ma’am. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Thank you, but it’s actually my birthday. My parents sent the flowers.”

Now, before you go calling me a stick in the mud, I do like chocolate, so I suppose that’s been one saving grace. And you have to admit that it’s at least somewhat special to go through life having been born on a holiday (albeit a rather polarizing holiday). It’s all I’ve ever known, but it’s a little…strange.

Then, there’s another issue under the surface…sibling rivalry. You see, my brother had to go and make his grand entrance into the world one year and a handful of days after I was born. (He thinks he’s here because our parents didn’t get it right the first time…and he’s the last-born because he was perfection.) However, this minuscule age gap created years of what I once considered unfair birthday rituals.

Because his birthday is the week following mine, in order to save time and resources, childhood birthday parties took place in between the two dates.

In other words, after my actual birthday, but before his.


(To be fair, I always received my actual gifts on my actual birthday. I’ll give credit to my parents for that one. I owe them a LOT, when you get down to it. Like…my life, for starters. Best birthday present I ever received.)

Our party on my sixth-plus-four-days birthday and my brother’s not-quite-fifth birthday was the first time I really remember noticing the issue.

My mom put together the party. She created a very short table for the two of us and our very short guests. After she added pillows to the floor for seating, we had our party room.

She also gave the party a theme–airplanes. Instead of “Pin The Tail On The Donkey,” we played “Pin The Propeller On The Airplane.” The tablecloth was decorated with clouds. The shared birthday cake was decorated with planes. If the party really got out of hand, flying ice cream would have been within the realm of possibility.

When the day of the big “Sixth-Plus-Four-Days and Not-Quite-Fifth-Birthday-Party” arrived, our little guests sat around the table playing with party favors while the mothers and big sisters and aunts and grandmothers served cake, organized the games, and generally kept us from breaking bones. We were each allowed to invite four friends. With my brother being younger and not quite in school yet, one of his “friends” was a default younger sibling of one of my friends. (Neither of them knew four people at the time, so we succeeded in expanding their social circle that day.)

I only have three pictures from that day, and they are mostly typical birthday party pictures. Two of them focus on all of the kids sitting around the little table. While the mothers and big sisters and aunts and grandmothers were all smiling and laughing and joining in on the games and watching us behave like kids, the dads and big brothers and uncles and grandfathers had slipped away to another corner of the living room.

The third picture shows the dads and big brothers and uncles and grandfathers.

By the looks on their faces, you could tell that the whole “putting these birthday parties together” thing wasn’t their style.

The next year, our party was at McDonald’s.

In time, the rituals began to change, and we grew to think it was pretty cool that our birthdays were so close. (I don’t think we’ve completely grown up, though. We’ve been mailing each other the same birthday card for a couple of years now.) And I grew to accept the fact that our arrangement for parties just made sense for the adults in our lives.

I still haven’t completely embraced the idea of Valentine’s Day–a lot of people haven’t–but I can at least enjoy the birthday part of it. So, if you’re like me and you’re not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, just take a few minutes to think about those of us who simply call it “Happy Birthday.”

And we’ll try to smile when you wish us a “Happy Valentine’s Day.”