Birthday memories defined by mumps, stitches, and family

It’s my birthday today and the name of this blog has become more nostalgic than forward looking. If you know what I mean.

Mr. WI64 woke me singing You’re 21 today, an English ditty that got me thinking about parents and birthdays past.

Mom and Dad took my brother and sister to The Cave for their 21st, I told him. The Cave was a supremely cool Vancouver nightclub in the style and era of Sinatra. Mitzi Gaynor was a regular performer and The Cave was on the circuit for all the cool cat crooners. Mr WI64 has his own Cave story in which Eartha Kitt made eye contact and spoke directly to him. A man will remember a moment like that forever.

Did they take you to The Cave? he asked.

Nope. Apparently turning 21 was less of a big deal by the time I got there. But then I could hear my mother’s voice which, as these things do, has become mine.

My 21st fell on the eve of me embarking on a career as a newspaper reporter. My parents took me to dinner and Mom handed me an envelope.

Here, she said. Happy birthday. I’d been saving for your education, but decided this would be a better time (a fair assumption given I kept skipping final exams to take summer jobs on newspapers). No Pollyanna, my mother was all realist.

Gery's 21st
My 21st birthday. It wasn’t the Cave, but still it was memorable.

That envelope held just enough cash to buy myself a vintage 1961 Hillman Minx with four-in-the-floor stick shift. The freedom wheels of my new life, it had a dodgy starter and windshield wipers I operated via string pulled through the driver’s window.

Funny the things that commit occasions to memory. I recall my fifth birthday because I had the mumps and my mom and I had a tea party for two at my pint-size table and chairs. I wore the party dress she’d sewn for the occasion.

My 10th stands out because I sat on scissors and required six stitches. Still have the scar.

My 30th plays large because my dad had just died, but my sister rallied the family  for a party in which every member wore variations of 30 t-shirts, as in My mommy is 30, My auntie is 30, and so on. Mine said I am 30.

Gery's 30th

Some birthdays stand out for the celebration, some for who was absent, some because life just trundled on despite it being my birthday. Many I can’t find, no matter how hard I rummage around in my memory bank.

But as I get older and have had more birthdays than I have to look forward to, each seems as important as the last.

I thank Facebook in part for that. It has a knack for making you feel loved when it announces the date to all your friends – some close, a few you hardly know – and they respond with greetings.

On my 60th, Facebook lit up with these and other family images.

For all its faults, Facebook gets birthdays right.

Today started with breakfast made by a man for whom two surgeries in the past year have made difficult a lot of the things that used to be easy.  My sister phoned, my daughters and grandchildren phoned, friends connected in person and virtually.

I never did get to The Cave. And so far this day hasn’t held the high definition of mumps or stitches, but I’ll remember it. In part because I’m writing about it – that’ll help. But mostly because right now, I have pretty much everything.

 

20 Comments Add yours

  1. rick stevens says:

    Gery! Wow on several fronts! Happy birthday of course! And…yes I saw Mitzi Gaynor at the Cave in my teens. Holy munga. Parents took me there so was probably 19. Long time ago. Lena Horne used to play there…and I have a signed menu with her pic. Sadly didn’t see her there…but later when she was 66 I think )?) in Seattle and then Expo 86. Now…the weirdest part of my birthday response to you: I learned how to drive on an 1961 Hillman Minx. Excellent to see ad support on your blog!! Ricky

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      I KNEW we had more in common, Ricky. Let’s talk Hillman Minx’s over lunch in the next couple weeks.

      Like

  2. MacKeen says:

    Gery, i want full credit for remembering without the crutch of Facebook. This may not happen every year, but it will be heartfelt and not social-media prompted. Besides, it’s time we have lunch.

    Jane Burnes MacKeen 250-889-1054

    >

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Only family and true blues don’t need the crutch of Facebook. Or a shameless blog post. Lunch next week?

      Like

  3. Robyn Rose says:

    Happy Birthday Gery. You said you have everything BUT….A NEW KITCHEN!!! Right?

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Well, there’s that…..
      Thank you, Robyn.

      Like

  4. Karen says:

    Happy birthday Gery😃

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, Karen.

      Like

    2. Gery Lemon says:

      Btw…we miss you!

      Like

  5. Pat says:

    Happy Birthday, Gery. Time for tea again accompanied by pleasant laughter.

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, Patty.

      Like

  6. nmc2929 says:

    Every birthday you have is a celebration of your life…funny, I remember a lot of yours my special aunt and friend. The Cave never knew what it missed ❤️

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, my beloved. Help me fill in the gaps over a glass of wine.

      Like

  7. PJ Curtis says:

    Loved this one Gery, one of your best. And with a post-birthday walk looming with you tomorrow, the question is ‘how to make it memorable?’ my friend. Keep that quill handy, you’ve got plenty of ink and birthdays left.

    Like

  8. Jane Anne Murray says:

    Wonderful birthday memories!
    We share the same birthday month.
    Congrats!!!!!!
    I have been partying all month as soo many great friends share March together!! Love it! Cheers to you! Let’s thrive at 65!
    Thanks for sharing
    Jane Anne!

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you …. and happy birthday to you, Jane Anne.

      Like

  9. ridykun says:

    Thanks for this, Gery. You do know how to stir the emotions. I also clearly remember turning five. At the time, it seemed like such a big number!

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Rick. Hope I don’t become one of those older nostalgic bores. ☺️

      Like

  10. Jayne Beason says:

    Doing a blog about birthday memories is going to be in your memorable moments (hours, lol) too! Sixty four is fast waning away for me so your perspective resonates. Good to catch up yesterday my old-er chum!

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Big changes for you in this milestone year. All fodder for Mrs WI64. ☺️

      Like

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