Birthdays bring reflection and, sometimes, resolutions. I am so grateful for these years I’ve had on this earth. I’ve met some amazing people for seasons, reasons or my lifetime — or theirs. I’m grateful for you.
My dad and I did the Twist, as my grandmother and my great uncle Calvin, looked on. I was about two, but I was getting it in! That photo is one of my most favorite photos of my life. I treasure it in my mind. It’s framed & in a visible location at home, so I see it almost daily. I was just a toddler, but it sure looked fun. My father tower and family members took lots of photos. I know I was having a great time dancing with my father, as my Great Uncle, Calvin and his sister, my grandmother, looked on. Dad & I had a lot of great times over the years. We even re-created that moment at a milestone birthday party for me. It was even more special, because I can remember it! He remained a tower as pancreatic cancer did its evil deed. We were able to talk and touch for those final months. Dad was my tower until he left this earth on February 11, 2018.
My aging mental file cabinet of images always make me smile. There I am with my tower, my mother, holding lil old baby me. Before she left this earth, she made me an album of pictures, newspaper clippings and copies of programs from recitals & shows I was in — whether I was in the chorus or an unnamed extra. I didn’t see the book until she cancer was seeping life from her. It had images from my baby shower until I graduated college. I know my motherly tower loved me. She always made a way out of no way. I wish I knew what I was thinking at the time that she held me, looking down on her youngest and last youngin. As sheI have no doubt she loved me up until her death on November 3, 1987. She was an earthy tower and her presence remains, almost 31 after she physically left me.
Then, there I was with another tower, my maternal grandmother. Christmas was always special for me, mainly because Christmas Eve was her birthday. I remember the parties for her, often held on Christmas Eve, which was her birthday. I remember at least one champagne fountain featured at a party, because it was mesmerizing to me (nope, the kids couldn’t have any). The kids would be sequestered in a bedroom, when it got too late, but the adults weren’t ready to leave the fun yet. I remember my dad picking me up when it was time to go home. At home, I remember the white flocked Christmas tree often had a couple gifts beneath it. It magically multiplied by morning. My grandmother, Jewel, was another tower for me. I could call on her when I needed anything. She loved on me. She had no problem standing up to my parents for me — she would come to my rescue when troubles rose. She was a tower, even when she was struck by cancer and grew weak. She was a tower when she was hospitalized and I saw her in the hospital, after my first big earthquake. She laughed as she told us about how her hospital bed rolled from one end of the room to the other, during the tremor. She was the first tower I lost on July 24, 1971, again from another insidious cancer.
I remember the time I hung out with my friends in NYC. We were having fun in Manhattan, in the early 90’s, when one of my friends suggested I do some “model poses”. I gave it my best shot, and leaned against the shiny, tall backdrop — fanny pack in place (there’s nothing new under the sun). I did it, with some reluctance — I’m kinda shy. New York was always fun, back then. Little did I know that my chosen photo prop, the World Trade Center, wouldn’t be there forever.
I remember the fear and hurt and pain I felt the day those towers came down. For 17 years, I think about that day around my birthday. I think about the surprise birthday party for me that was upended because friends couldn’t travel, because of the temporary flight ban. I cherished those who spent their time with me. We smiled and laughed and drank and ate and laughed some more. My stranded friends called me & wished me well. It was bitter-sweet, indeed. But, those towers and the human towers lost that day can never be forgotten.
I never imagined my life without those towers in my life. With the departure of each tower, I realized just how mortal (human or material) towers are — even when they seem so sturdy and invincible.
This birthday, I’ve thought about my towers a lot.
I pray for all of my towers — large and small; present and gone; known and unknown. I know towers cannot last forever. But memories will. And, as I look back over my life, I know those who left before me also propel me forward. I’m reminded that hurdles, like trouble, won’t last always. And, I know that for every mountain…