I won’t lie, it’s difficult celebrating today. But it’s also sort of necessary, isn’t it? I mean, every year on this day, I look at the flowers blooming and think, I hope I’m here one more year to see this. So, no matter what the next year brings, I celebrate last year and say goodbye to it. It’s time to turn to what’s coming with gratitude for what came before.
By Michelle Garren Flye
It’s not so important, this birthday of mine.
I’ll toast and forget it with a little red wine.
What’s fifty, after all, but a number of sorts?
It’s not like it comes with big lumpy warts.
I’m not really any older than I was yesterday—
I’ll still skip and holler in the midst of the fray.
If you think about it, each day leaves us a bit worn,
And it starts from the very hour we are born.
What’s fifty after all, but the next logical step?
Each year, just a memory, so carefully kept.
We build our remembrances up until the end,
And hope time’s passage brings us another friend.
What’s fifty? I yell to the rest of the world.
I’m nothing without age…let the years unfurl!
It’s not like it’s something we’d want to avoid.
If we try to, our hopes will just be destroyed.
What’s fifty? A point on a timeline, if you would.
Just you wait, this year I’ll make fifty look good.
I have a particular affinity for daffodils. I’ve taken dozens of pictures of them this spring alone. They’re almost done here, but I found this lovely this morning, and it seemed like a special gift to me. So I wrote a poem about her.
In Her Prime
By Michelle Garren Flye
A little wrinkled,
She holds up her bobbing head.
Not done yet, she says.
Author’s Note: Happy shared birthday, RBG. Sometimes wrinkles make you stronger.
Yesterday was one of my kids’ birthdays. I found myself thinking (and talking) all day about the day he was born. I’m going to tell you the story and I beg you to bear with me because there is a point to it.
It was snowy and cold up in Baltimore and I had been feeling bad all day, but I wasn’t supposed to be in labor yet. It was a month too early! But my husband called the doctor anyway, and he suggested we just stop by the hospital to be checked out. Better safe than sorry. We figured we’d stop by Taco Bell and pick up dinner on the way home, then cuddle up in our cozy apartment with our four-year-old son and watch “The Simpsons”.
Well, I was in labor. Long story short, they decided to stop the labor so while they fed me drugs intravenously, my husband braved the snow and took our son to the Eastern Shore to stay with his Granny. The labor stopped and I was discharged the next morning with instructions to rest. I did, but the pains started again that evening and in the early morning hours, I woke my husband and we went to the hospital again and a few hours later, my blessedly healthy five-pound son was born.
This is a story like many others. My friends and I used to get together at play dates and swap birth stories. I find myself telling these stories to strangers and acquaintances who probably don’t get why it’s so important to me and are probably hiding yawns as a I tell them.
So why is this story so interesting to me? Because it’s an origin story. Not just my son’s origin story, but the story of how I became a mom of two (the story of how I became a mom of three is another one for another time!). I love origin stories. The one book of the Bible that I have actually read and studied is Genesis. “In the beginning…” is a magical phrase for me. I think these stories are important to me because they preserve where we came from, and that’s what stories were originally intended to do.
We are made up of our origin stories. How we became who we are. Parents, writers, sons, daughters…whatever you are, you have an origin story or two or three. Probably many all intertwined like leaves and vines. We are who we are because of our stories, so the next time your mother bores you with her story of your birth or your grandfather tells you for the umpteenth time what it was like when he was a kid, listen with an ear pressed to the ground. It’s your origins—your roots—that you’re hearing.