Last night when I leaned over to look at the clock next to the bed it was 11:53 PM. I said to the walls, “Another one almost over,” then rolled back and spent the last moments of my birthday looking at the ceiling reminiscing about past ones.
I remembered adolescent birthday parties with ice cream and a cake made with yellow cake and chocolate icing. My aunt Alice always baked my favorite decorated with cowboys, Batman, or Saints players. I thought of the birthdays that fell on Thanksgiving Day and receiving extra dollar bills from relatives who were reminded of my special day when the all the family gathered for dinner. I would purposely count them in front of the men so they would ask why I had the money and tell them it was my birthday. Sneaky wasn’t it?
I remembered the birthday at thirteen. My mother wrote Happy Birthday on 13 pieces of paper and placed them around the house. I had to find them all to get the present. She would do things like that. It made life more interesting.
Through my teens my brother Jimmy would always take me duck hunting on my birthday. I remembered that, those memories lasting a lifetime.
For my eighteenth birthday I remembered I helped my mother and sister clean the entire house before I was to meet my friend to get in a bar legally for the first time. Lounges now had to let me in no matter how young I looked. Friends started showing up at the house and when a friend I haven’t seen in years came by I realized all the people were there for a surprise party. I not knowingly cleaned up my house for my own surprise party. My mother did things like that. She made life interesting.
The day I reached age 21 I felt empowered. I remembered that day because I had a swagger. I felt I had arrived. No other single day had done that before and none has since.
At 30 I spent it on stage performing for the Illusions Night Club crowd. The stage I longed for as a child. I thought, pretty cool.
I tried to remember, but figured it was somewhere between thirty three and thirty-five, I was on the radio in the morning, then taped something at the television station in the afternoon, then was in a play that night. That birthday was freaking awesome.
At 40 I spent the first birthday with the women who would be my wife.
Around the mid 40 birthdays, Percy Sledge would always sing since we always booked him at Visions and the Abyss the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I remembered that.
At the half century mark I woke up in the French Quarter, part of the city where I was born. I walked to the river and watched the sunrise and thought about how I got to do what I love to do for the last forty-five years and how I live out a boyhood dream, however relative it is to the grand one I had. I remembered 50 is getting up there but it sure didn't feel old.
And, yesterday at 55, I went to the radio station and did the morning show then bought my wife a Christmas present. I was so excited for her to have it I gave it to her early. (She’ll have another under the tree.) I then did a live broadcast from a restaurant and bar in the afternoon, and later in the evening was sung Happy Birthday by my lovely wife, and two grandkids, oddly hearing Larry, Paw Paw, and Daddy, simultaneously before blowing out a single candle on a chocolate cake.
I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing for the next birthday since the only thing constant is change, but I can tell you this. Last night staring at the ceiling I couldn’t remember any November 27th that was a bad one.
Thanks all for the birthday wishes. It was very nice of you. I truly thank you.