08 February 2005

It really was a very Happy Birthday...

...and if I had to turn one year older, I marked the day in such fine company. If you attack challenging tasks, such as aging, you really should do it among friends, and for however blond I may be, at the very least I had the good sense to understand that adding another digit to my age could actually be fun in the right company. My birthday was spent in the perfect company.

The day was sunny, not too chilly for early February, and if I were to compare the atmosphere of February 6th, 2005 to something, it would just have to be a daisy. What's more friendly and warm than a daisy? Right, I bet you can't think of too many things either. I mean, yes, a warm puppy is perfectly irresistible (unlike a gopher snake), but you don't have to house break a daisy, and it just sits there in a container and, by doing nothing more than standing straight and tall, it elicits heart smiles.

I love daisies.

Interestingly enough, my morning started with a phone call from a local florist. On a Sunday, some local flower shop wanted to know if I was going to be at home for a while. On a Sunday? Of course I was going to be home. I had to shove things under the bed and into closets and make it all look presentable because I was having company in a few short hours. I asked the flower rep who these petals were from, but he played coy and refused to divulge the secret source. "Bring them on!", I said.

Within minutes my doorbell was ringing and the guy was holding a beautiful arrangement of live flowers from someone who obviously knew me well, because it contained all my favorite colors and yes, there were LOTS of daisies. I didn't know for certain, but I suspected these flowers were international in origin...or at least the sender was and I had a hunch these flowers were sent by someone with a killer French accent. A certain person I have known for years and who has seen me through ups, downs and everything in between, who, on my first visit to Paris, way back in May, 1997, while waiting for our food to come, lead me by the hand down a narrow ally and pointed my gaze in the direction of a structure that still takes my breath away - The Eiffle Tower, and, by doing so, imprinted a memory, no make that MANY memories, that will never, ever fade but only grow more precious with age.

I got flowers from my forever friend in France. Who has been not only my friend, but my advisor, my mentor and one of the people I respect most in this world.

Clearly, these flowers were the work of the man who gave me the courage to propose and write my very first newspaper column - and who still cajoles me to write more, even when I'm certain that I can't. For over four years I have written and had published over 100 columns, and not one of them would have happened without his encouragement, his unwavering belief in me even, and most especially. when I had very little confidence. I couldn't possibly list all of the things he has meant to me and how he has made my life so much more wonderful by simply being a part of it, but he's been pivotal in every good thing that has happened to me since our chance meeting in June 1996, during what was a very difficult transition for me. Thank you sounds so plain and inadequate, but it's all I've got right now. Within minutes of receiving Michel's daisies, my cell phone rang as if on cue, and so he was with me on my birthday even if he was physically across the Atlantic.

Thank you my dear and faithful friend, Michel.

In the meantime, back at the ranch, Dan was running around like a crazy man. In a very short period of time, he managed a very long list of things to attend to including, but not limited to, ordering and buying a beautiful birthday cake, picking up a meat tray and fruit platter, all manner of soft drinks, snacks, and when he came back to the house to grab my son for even more errands, he left a large iced tea (with lemon!) and a pot of daisies right outside my door. Talk about attention to detail. This guy had it going on.

Soon, some of my favorite people were milling about my house and hanging out in my office, checking out my aviary and helping me ease into 45 as gently as anyone really can. It didn't help much that a lot of these people were YOUNGER than me and I'm trying not to nurse a resentment over it, but it is what it is.

And this is the place where I'd like to offer some very sincere and heartfelt thank yous. First and foremost, to my parents for making it possible for me to exist and have the task before me of actually aging! It really isn't such a bad problem to have. To my son, Justin, and my daughter, Katie, for showing up which was, apparently, the ultimate sacrifice; It would seem the two of them sacrificed far more interesting social engagements and painfully forced themselves to spend a couple of hours in my oh so boring company.

To a posse of pals that mean the absolute world to me:

So that, my friends, is how you turn 45. You surround yourself with people you respect, enjoy spending time with, and who don't allow you to take yourself TOO seriously. If you are blessed enough to have folks like this in your life, it's all good. It really is.

Thank you.