How I Spent My 80th Birthday

I was born on Memorial Day which was always celebrated on May 30th, and it didn’t make any difference on what day of the week it came. I can remember thinking that all the parades and other hoopla on my birthday was really done for me and my enjoyment. Then some unions got to the President and convince him that it would be better if the made Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. I was heartbroken. My birthday on the 30th of May was no longer “the” Memorial Day every year anymore.

This year (2001) we started celebrating my birthday early. A 2nd cousin of mine, Karen, was in town so Ruthie, Art and Karen took Maxine and me out to dinner the Saturday before Memorial Day. We had a great time together getting reacquainted with Karen. We hadn’t seen her since she was in town for her father’s last days and his funeral. Art & I traded insults and enjoyed our meals. Then they had a great big confection that seemed to be all whipped cream with a lit candle in the middle. The staff carried it our table singing “happy birthday”. I was overwhelmed!

The next day, Sunday, my cousin, Arnold, took Maxine and me out to lunch, and a good time was had by all. My brother called and said that he wanted to take us out to dinner, but he was having trouble getting his gang together, so would it be all right if we got together the week after my actual birthday? Sure. I said, it would be great.

Monday, Memorial Day, I went with Maxine to Cub Foods for fruit, vegetables, snacks and I snuck in a paperback into her buggy. I got real tired, walking around, so I found a bench at the front of the store where I could rest and watch the check-out counters. To the left of my bench, I saw a young, nice looking matron-type woman getting ready to ready to leave the store with her buggy of groceries. She glanced over to me and came to my side. Just that morning I had read in the newspaper about gangs working the grocery stores and parking lots and stealing credit cards. One person would attract your attention while the other would go through your wallet or purse. I thought to myself, “I wonder if this is one of the pair of con artists coming to try and get to my wallet?” I didn’t get up from the bench and figured they wouldn’t have much luck getting to my wallet while I was sitting on the bench.

She stood there for a few seconds, and then said, “Sir, I apologize for disturbing you, but would you please tell me if you are a Veteran?” I said, “Yes, I am.” I have to admit I was looking around for her accomplice. Then she said, “Would you please let me shake your hand and let me thank you, personally, for what you suffered for us so that we can be living in peace after you helped to make our lives safe?” She held onto my hand and continued, “I have been teaching my two children that Memorial Day is not just the beginning of Summer, but that it is the day we must remember that others fought for us so that we can enjoy this summertime.” I blurted out, “Lady, you are going to make me cry. I have never had a stranger treat me this way. Please accept my thanks for your words.”

Now wasn’t that the best birthday and birthday present a person could have?