Sunday, October 2, 2011

#20 A Broken Rose--A Birthday Song

     Today is my birthday, and as birthdays go, it's been memorable. My birthday season started out a couple of weeks ago with me coming down with bronchitis. I have missed work, a concert, and some meetings, and I've coughed my way through several patient interviews. But, I am finally (cough, cough) on the mend, having passed the evil bug on to both my husband and my daughter. 
     In the days leading up to my birthday, my husband helped me to find the ideal purse as my birthday gift. The camel-colored leather bag, with its tassels and pockets, arrived last week, to my delight, and I have already filled it. David did a great job of sleuthing to get it just right.
     Buying a purse has become, for me, quite a challenge. It has to be long enough to hold my cane when it's folded and still have space for the usual wallet and cosmetic bag. Plus, I carry two cell phones--one for personal use and one reserved just for patients--and my prescription pad and pens, a flashlight, my pocket calendar, identification badges, and the list goes on. The bag can get pretty heavy. Additionally, I need help finding a good color. Last year I found a lovely, chocolate bag at a reasonable price and proudly carried it for a couple of months before I went to see my son for a visit. When he opened the door for me as we were leaving to go out to dinner, he noticed my bag and exclaimed, aghast, "Mom, what are you doing carrying a purple handbag?!" I, too, was aghast. To me it looked brown! I wondered if people might think I am becoming more daring as I get older, or maybe a little odd. I was carrying purple with everything! 
     My mistake with the purse selection brought to mind the poem, "When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple"(see below). I like the poem, but if I am going to wear purple, I want it to be because I choose it, knowing that it is purple!
     My birthday week was a bit lonely with my daughter gone on her senior trip and no hope of my adult children coming home for a visit. I approached the weekend with anticipation, however, because I was going to see old friends on Friday. I attended a gleeful gathering of some of my former classmates--all girls from Lee High School in Midland. We had a marvelous time catching up with each other and talking about families, trials, and triumphs. As women of a certain age, we no longer care about the various cliques and  prejudices we had in high school; we just love each other and enjoy the camaraderie. 
     As the evening waned, and the stars came out, I found that I was stuck out on the covered patio, out in the middle of the large back yard in the dark, with no cane or flashlight to get me back to the house. I hadn't really talked much about my visual handicap, didn't want to call attention to it, and hadn't even brought my cane out yet in their presence. (I really don't like my problem to be the topic of conversation if I can help it.)  As I attempted to pick my way through the darkness back to the house, the girls ordered me back to the patio and surprised me with a party! They paraded from the house all in a line carrying gifts, tooting horns, wearing silly glasses and fake noses, and bearing cake! My cupcake sported a singing candle (thank goodness they lit only one!), and the presents and cards were both wonderful and hilarious. 
     It's been a long time since I had a birthday party, and this one was a blast-- full of belly laughs, giggles, guffaws, and even a few tears. They assisted me back to the house after our rowdy revelry. None of us cared about anyone's deficits. We just appreciated our benefits! Thanks, girlfriends. You gave me some new smile lines!
     I even went to bed last night smiling-- from the memory of the party and because of the arrival of my first birthday greeting, four seconds after midnight, from my niece. I awoke this morning contented--ready to get out of bed, eager to get dressed for church, and glad to be able to go to the house of the Lord after being sick for two weeks with bronchitis. None of my children were home for my birthday breakfast, but I had a dear husband to greet me when I came into the kitchen.       
     And greet me he did! David was making tea for me and had placed a bouquet of roses and a sweet card on the kitchen table. How beautiful! I was able to enjoy my tea and roses and set about arranging the flowers while David took his shower. Among the dozen fragrant, long-stemmed, multicolored roses was one red one with a broken stem halfway down the shaft. With only a moment of sadness for the broken rose, I trimmed it and put it in a bud vase by itself. Perfect. A single rose in a cut-glass vase, placed on my bathroom vanity to remind me of my husband's love. The rest I arranged in a large red vase for the kitchen table--roses for two places in the house, instead of one! 
birthday roses and cupcakes
     Once my husband was ready, he accompanied me to church. I read my card as we rode in the church bus from the parking lot to the Worship Center and, as a result,  messed up my mascara! He's a good card picker. I had to read it twice to soak up the precious words and sentiment. Life is good. But, it's better lived with one's soulmate.
     I learned in Bible study class today that the sermon is posted on the You Version Bible phone app each Sunday, and I previewed the sermon notes. I was excited that the pastor planned to speak on the topic, "What's In a Name?" His scripture references were cited as Isaiah 62:2-4 and Revelation 2:17. The second is one of my favorites:

   17 "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."
Revelation 2:17 New International Version (NIV)
     It excites me to know that God has a new name for each of His children, for us who love the Lord. He takes what is ruined and makes it new. He mends broken vessels and makes them whole again. He turns ugly into beautiful. He gives us a new name that more accurately describes who we are in Him instead of who we were. 
      One of my favorite songs about this principle is sung by Gwen Smith in the video, "Broken Into Beautiful":

     After class I donned my choir robe and joined the rest of the choir in the rehearsal room for worship. But, I was not to sing in worship this morning or hear the sermon. Just as we were leaving the choir room, my husband came in looking for me with a worried look on his face. He was having chest pain. Our church friends helped me get out of my choir robe and retrieve my things, offered to call an ambulance, looked for aspirin, sat with David while I went to get the car,  and even offered to go with us to the hospital.              
     Fortunately, David is okay, if an outbreak of shingles can be considered "okay," and we are now at home enjoying the rest of our afternoon and evening--grateful that we have each other and our family, grateful that he didn't have a cardiac arrest. He missed the Cowboy game, but he doesn't seem to mind. I missed the sermon and the singing, but that's okay too. David has a good perspective on this, I think. He says, matter of factly, "It's just the shingles again. If I have to choose between the shingles or a heart attack, I'll take the shingles!" 
     My senior daughter came home and presented me with a lovely necklace she bought for me while visiting Taos Pueblo. And, one of my adult children called  and sang "Happy Birthday." Not bad.
      Some might say that my birthday was a not-so-good day, but I don't see it that way. I choose to see it differently--in a different light.  Bronchitis and a broken rose and my husband having a potential heart attack didn't darken my day.  In fact, it turned out just "rosy".  


    
              Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple



By Jenny Joseph




When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
    
    
     

1 comment:

Jeff P. said...

Judy - I loved your birthday story! Happy birthday!!! You and David have a special relationship that most people only dream of. You really deserve each other.

As one who is also "of a certain age," I can remember back (barely) to the Lee High School days in Midland. What fun we all had!

I look forward to seeing you both again someday. There's got to be a way to meet somewhere - we go all over the world, it should be possible to get to Tyler (or even Midland - you know our 40th is coming quickly!) Maybe you can even make it to California - David knows the way.

I can ask our daughter Sharon to give you purse pointers - she bought 14 "designer name" (and I use the term loosely)purses when we were in NYC last year. So many she had to buy another piece of luggage to get them back to Dallas.

Keep up your inspirational writing. It's good for what ails you (and the rest of us, too).

Your Friend Forever, Jeff P.