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Birthday Reflections


When a burn permit is needed before the birthday candles are lit, it’s time to stop putting candles on the cake, right? My Grands didn’t think and they decorated my cake with exactly the right number of candles. Husband asked, “Did you get a burn permit?” That wasn’t one bit funny. My Grands said, “There’s so many candles, we’ll help you blow them out!” All the candles weren’t lit, but the cake still looked like an inferno. It took four Grands and me so long to blow out all those candles that the ice cream melted in the carton.

After my birthday last week, it occurred to me that I’m the age Granny was when she was old. So old that I’d pinch the skin on the back of her hand and count the seconds until her skin lay flat. So old that a hard day’s work was hoeing two rows of corn in her garden. So old that she wore long dresses and black leather lace-up shoes and stuffed a handkerchief in her bosom.

Times have changed. We grandmothers of today aren’t like my grandmother, there are some things women of Granny’s generation did that I’ve promised myself I won’t do.

  1. Hold my purse in my lap.
  2. Carry a plastic rain cap in my purse.
  3. Take a sweater everywhere I go – especially during the summer.
  4. Talk about bathroom habits.
  5. Say, “I lost ____.” (Fill in the blank with the most recently missing item.)

When I was a young thirty-something, I attended a luncheon for senior citizens and I set my purse on the floor. The two women seated across from me whispered to each other and then one said, “Your purse is on the floor.” I nodded, smiled, and agreed. They looked as if I’d just announced that there was a fire in the building. With big eyes and a stern voice, one lady said, “Honey, the floor is no place for your purse.” Then I noticed that all the older women at the table held their purses, with thin paper napkins covering them, in their laps. And I swore that I’d never, ever hold my purse in my lap.

I don’t even know if those little plastic rain caps are still available. Granny always carried two in her purse, one for herself and one for anyone who didn’t have one. Yes, sometimes rooms are overly air-conditioned and a sweater is needed – but no one needs a sweater at an outside Fourth of July celebration. About the bathroom talk – when I was a little girl, I learned that what happens in the bathroom isn’t talked about. That goes for everybody, no matter how old.

I really don’t lose things. I put things in safe places or logical places to use them another time. Recently I said to Husband, “When you see my little gray camera laying around somewhere, please tell me where it is.” And he said, “So that’s what you’ve lost today?” I didn’t say that.

Here’s my plan. As long as my Grands will put candles on my birthday cake and help me blow them out, I want birthday candles. And I won’t act old, like Granny and her friends did, and I’ll never let my Grands pinch the back of my hand.


2 Responses

  1. And is there gum in that purse you take to church? Someone’s child might need it to keep him/her quiet. But wait, children are not in the sanctuary much now! I so enjoy your writing, Susan.


  2. I was kidding a friend about the plastic raincap and she pulled one out of her purse! Too funny. However I do carry a sweater!


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