Earthly Birthdays

My mother would be 76 years old today if she were around to experience such earthly things as birthdays. Now I for one don’t believe in heaven or hell, but should these places exist, do the dead celebrate birthdays? I would think not.

“I’m 202 years old now, 64 of those years on Earth.” Would the dead say things like that?

What’s a birthday if you don’t age?

Do immortals celebrate birthdays? They’d undoubtedly lose track of the years. “I’m 42 eons old. You?”

Of course, for some people, birthday celebrations are a circle of hell. “If you ever wish me a happy birthday, I’ll never speak to you again,” a woman once actually said to me, and she wasn’t kidding.

Other folks celebrate for week or a month.

In some places your birthday is the first day of the year, not the date you actually entered the world. I’ve had some students tell me how in America they were not the same age as they were in their country. I’d ask them how old they were and they’d have to think about it.

What if we traveled to another planet? One year on Saturn is 29 Earth years. Does that mean on Saturn I’m 1,479 years old? Or just a year and seven months? Hmm…

Then there are unbirthdays! Wait. What?

What is this rabbit hole and how did I get here?

Well, since we’re here, I’ll tell you a story of a girl who turned eight and who loved her birthday. And because her birthday fell in the month of Halloween, the grownups in her life threw her a surprise costume party.

Her mother, the planner of everything, dressed up as a cat. Her grandmother became her fairy godmother and her great aunt turned into a witch. Perhaps her dad was supposed to be Prince Charming, but she called him Prince Meany since he kept threatening everyone with his sword. And by threaten, he’d laugh and wave it around and announce, “Off with your head!” Or “I have a sword!”

Her mother had made the sword and the crown for her father, even though they were divorced.

The uncle came as a guest in a party hat because that’s as much as he could handle.

The dog came as Toto and was the favorite guest.

They made the birthday girl a party hat out of yarn and a paper plate.

Perhaps they should’ve gone on an adventure after eating cake. (It was apricot cake, the girl’s favorite.)

They lived ever after. Until they didn’t.

The End and Happy Birthday, everyone.




4 thoughts on “Earthly Birthdays

  1. I sorta kinda get the feeling that the birthday-party story you concluded with wasn’t 100% fictional…

    My dad was born in 1924 (so he would’ve been 95 last year) and died in June 1988, just a few days after his 64th birthday. I have no memory of anyone’s “celebrating” that last birthday of his; he’d been in the last stages of terminal cancer for some time already. But I don’t think he was still communicating in any way with any of us, and his birthday probably seemed to him — if it seemed like anything at all — a very, very, very odd thing to be experiencing at the time.

    I do think of him from time to time in terms of something like reincarnation or transmigration of the soul. I wonder if he’s reconstituted, one way or another, in the physical form of someone/something which came after. A funny thought, not just that “he” might now be “in” someone 30ish years of age or younger, anywhere in the world, but that “he” might be “in” someTHING else — perhaps a hickory tree, about to be harvested for (among other things) the manufacture of drumsticks. As a lifelong drummer — amateur and (semi-)pro — and eventual teacher of drumming, I think he might like that.

    1. Your feeling would be correct.

      I like the idea of being reconstituted as someone/something, something that makes sense for that particular soul. Mostly I feel that my mother is just gone, perhaps stardust, particles in the air, I don’t know.

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