St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns. Shamrocks. Green clothes. Birthday cakes. Yeah, I know. One of those things doesn’t really fit. Not to most people, anyway. It’s a perfect fit for me, though, as it was on St. Patrick’s day of 1969 that I came into this world butt first. I’ve said here before that my three older sisters like to say that I came into this world showing my butt and never stopped. That’s not what this post is about, though. It’s about the fact that this Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, is my 43rd birthday. There’s nothing particularly momentous about birthdays as one gets older. Maybe the biggies like 50 and other milestone years are cause for a party but there’s certainly nothing special about 43. It’s…43. A prime number. Good for OCD-ers like me.
What is different about this birthday for me is that it will be the first one I’ve had without my mama. Anyone who’s ever read much of this blog probably knows that she went to Heaven last July 27th and I have to say that this birthday is not one I’m looking forward to. It’s been a strange week. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how the person God chose to give me life here on earth no longer has life here on earth. Sure, she’s in Heaven and celebrating and she knows it’s my birthday. I’m sure of it. Good for her. No cancer. No dementia. No arthritis. Good legs that can walk and ears that can hear. My mama loved to sing more than I can even begin to express with mere words. She sang lots of hymns for over 80 years. My dad, too, though I don’t have any specific memories of them ever singing together, even just around the house. I’m sure they did. I was probably too busy making plans on how to show my butt to hear them.
There is one time I do remember them singing together. Actually, that number is probably closer to 20. From the time I moved out at the age of 23, not a single St. Patrick’s Day passed without an early morning phone call that went like this: Me: “Hello?” Mom and Dad, in perfect two part harmony: “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Thad! Happy birthday to you!” My dad would then launch into some sort of silly, made-up verse and then they’d wrap it up by telling me how much they loved me and that they hoped I had a great day. I always did. You could hear the smiles in their voices as they sang and it was darn near impossible to have anything but a good day with that sort of pep rally right off the bat!
It’s one of those little, special things that you feel like will go on forever no matter how old you get. I didn’t know that St. Patrick’s Day 2011 would be the last time I’d hear that duet in this life. If I would’ve known, I’d have done something special. Maybe recorded it or told them how much it meant to me. You just can’t know those things I guess. That would probably take the fun out of it. I think maybe this year I’ll get up early on my birthday and call my dad and just tell him thanks for doing that all those years. We’ll both probably cry like I’m crying now and I’ll tell him that I can’t wait for the day when we’re all back together again with Mama and that I want the two of them to sing that song to me every day, birthday or not. I can hardly wait. What a day! Revelation 22:20.