Our two sons were born on the same day in February, four years apart; February 13th. My husband's birthday comes six days earlier. This year, our younger son's girlfriend had a birthday in between the others. So this year, there were four people to celebrate within the one week.
As time drew near, the family decided to celebrate their birthdays together at a steakhouse in North Austin. Since we all live so far apart, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting us all together at once under one roof on one day to celebrate, instead of four parties, in four different locations, at four different times (to honor each individual, respectively), AND Valentine's Day, too. Instead, we were going to cover it all in one fell swoop, and get to see our brand new grandson, as well----all at the same time!
Every one arrived at the restaurant punctually. There were
of us to be seated, including our 11-month old grandson who had just
started walking. My husband commented that life was truly about
interesting, since our grandson had recently started
Our waitress seated us at the only table big enough to accommodate us all, a round one adjacent to a large stone fireplace--wonderfully cozy for February birthdayers, perfect for enjoying the baby, and far enough away from everyone else for all of us to relax, spread out, eat--and eventually share news and personal stories while opening gifts without creating a disturbance for others around us.
I spread the table with birthday things: brightly colored balloons,
two cakes with #31, #27, and #21 and #51 blue candles, as well as
shopping bags overflowing with birthday and valentine goodies.
spilled into the floor. There was barely room for food.
Dinner finally arrived, accompanied by several complimentary glasses of
The fire roared, the family laughed and chatted happily together, and
I looked around the table I felt both warmed both by the fire's glow
the joy of the knowledge of such wonderful people actually being
of my own family. I felt detached within the epiphany
somehow, as I reached
into my pocket for my camera to capture the essence of it. "Four
birthdays...", I mused. "Well, at least I'll capture
some of this
Kodak moment on film," I assured myself, and
began snapping photo after photo.
Soon enough, though, things took an unexpected turn.
"Hey, Mom, remember the time you accidentally spun the cat in our clothes drier?"
Everyone stopped talking and turned toward me.
I put the camera down. The storytelling had begun.
"Yeah, that's right. You remember--Jonesy (the cat) had climbed in there behind the towels while you were answering the telephone. And remember how you came into the laundry room -- you couldn't see him back there under the towels, so you turned the drier on and, wow!!!.....That was pretty funny.....Well, actually, it was pretty awful, but it turned out OK because he only went around a couple of times before your realized what that noise was and opened the door. "
My husband was speechless. "You mean the cat actually spun around---in the drier?"
"Yeah, Dad---Mom pushed the START button and away he went! It sounded like a large pair of tennis shoes bouncing around.....man, you should have seen her face."
"Betty," Gene had turned toward me," I can't believe you actually let him spin around -- how could you?" He groaned.
"Mom didn't mean to do it----she didn't even know he was in there. You didn't did you, Mom?"
I was under siege. I saw visions of the SPCA coming to take me
away. What happened to our Kodak moment.
"Yeah, Dad, you should have seen the look on Mom's face; she didn't know until the cat started yowling--well, actually, it was more of a muffled howl because there were a lot of towels and he was bouncing around in there and all...it didn't hurt him, really. REALLY. She turned it off after only a couple of spins.....you didn't know he was in there, did you, Mom?"
My husband just stared at me, gape mouthed. I felt like Joan Crawford in "Mommy Dearest". I wondered what internal mechanism oft times causes such revelations to so spontaneously erupt from that very pride, the very joy of our loins.
"That's nothing, Dad..." the older one continued without hesitation. I drew breath.
"...Did she tell you about the time we spun around in the drier?"
"We whom??" My husband queried.
"Me and Ian (his brother). Well, mostly Ian. He got in and put his hands on those rib things---you know, the bumpy metal parts that knock the towels around..." I began fishing for matches to light the birthday cakes. I had baked two of them for the occasion. My husband was frowning at me.
"Ian just crawled right in the drier. Then he grabbed hold of those rib things and I tried to turn the basket manually--- you know, where you put the towels in?"
"How many times did he go around?"
"Only once or twice. We just turned it manually, Dad. I only threatened to turn on the switch."
"Did your mother know about this?" Gene asked the older one while looking straight at me.
"Mom didn't know, at least I don't think she knew---she'd have killed us both---it seemed pretty funny then; I guess it's really scary now, though, when I think about it..." the older one just laughed and laughed. His wife was now staring at their new baby son.
"Make a wish!!" I exclaimed, relieved to finally light the candles.
"Well," My husband pronounced as he drew breath, "may the road ahead for each of you parents indeed be filled with just such moments of wonder as tonight has been for your mother and I..."
"Happy Birthday, Dad."
"Happy birthday, all of us," our younger son sighed, as he scooped up his new nephew now suddenly tottering along the floor toward the waitress' station.
"Thanks for the presents, Mom!"
"I really didn't know about the drier, honey. Really."
"You mean, ya'll are just now telling your own mother about the drier thing," the younger one's girlfriend asked.
'That's nothing, Angela!!---hey, Dad...did we ever tell you and
about the time I
accidentally hit Ian in the stomach with a dart..."