Happy Birthday to Me

Birthdays are bittersweet.

I love watching children who express utter delight at the attention and excitement on their own birthdays. I observed this with my grandson at his second birthday a few months ago. We dimmed the lights to show off the cake and its bright candles. William was focused on the cake and the lights and his mom helped him blow out the candles. Will clapped for himself, totally engaged in the moment.

I doubt if I did the same thing at his age. When I was two, I was one of two children. Mike, my older brother was five years old at the time. He had been diagnosed earlier that year before as ‘profoundly retarded’ (using the parlance of the time) and autistic. Autism had just been added to the diagnosis manual. I can’t imagine myself expressing utter delight at much of anything at that time.

Was I ever utterly delighted at age two? I can’t check this out with my mother any more since she died in February. There are very few, people left (if any) who knew me when I was two years old, so I suppose that whatever I say happened back then, happened. Photographs might be able to refute this, but I contend that photographs do not always tell the truth. Videos or, in my case, 8mm home movies might be a bit more truthful, but even if I could locate them I could not watch them without jumping through technical hoops.

I am 63 years old today. Mom died in February so this is the first year that I wont be getting a happy birthday call from her. That makes me sad. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous. It does to me. Perhaps it is time for distraction. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. It is difficult to be distracted however, on one’s birthday.

This is me at age 3. I couldn’t find any birthday party pictures.

Photograph: Early childhood photograph

Me at Age 3

11 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me

  1. It’s not ridiculous to be sad for missing your mum or her birthday call. I think it’s that thing called normal.

    Happy birthday, I hope you find the distraction you need today 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. A happy day is planned. A lot of missing of my mum was covered in my youth when I moved away (college, work, etc.). But the little things that I can’t do anymore, like picking up the phone to say hi, have an unexpected impact.
      Thank you again for your kind comment.


  2. Happy Birthday Jack. You raise so many issues in this short post which I have found myself preoccupied with in recent years: the part of our histories which our parents take with them to the grave; the point in childhood when we taste bitter with sweet; the impact on siblings of each other, especially in relation to autism; the wonderful exuberance of celebrating self (which I did as a child!); and just simply missing my mum ringing to wish me happy birthday.


    • Thanks, Liz. I think the common denominator in all of this is communication and how it changes during one’s lifetime: how our inner self is received upon making its way out into the world; how others’ views of the world makes its way in; sorting out cognitive dissonance; getting used to shortfalls. A particularly difficult hurdle with which to contend is one-way communication, expecting something back when nothing is forthcoming.
      Um… I might be off on the wrong track for today. A little self indulgence is in order.
      Thanks again, Liz. I always appreciate your observations.

      Liked by 1 person

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