Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Birthday Trifecta

This year marks my Golden Jubilee.  When I was younger, the thought of me being 50 years old one day seemed so far away it wasn't worth thinking about.  I figured I'd be married, children in high school or college and growing old with my husband.  None of those things have happened, and although I'm holding out hope for some of those, my life isn't on hold waiting for it all to happen.  This past year I completed my MBA, which is something else I still can't believe I did...and survived.  Long ago I figured if I hadn't married by 50, I'd pursue higher education.  Seems like God had better plans and I completed that education before I turned 50.  

With both my parents gone and very little extended family, my friends have become my family.  I'm blessed to have a lot of people around me who love me and went to amazing strides to make this milestone birthday memorable.  My Mom would have loved every minute of these celebrations and I'm sure would be thrilled to know I'm so loved.  My Dad would have reminded me he also had a milestone coming as he would have been 90 this upcoming October had he lived.  When you turn half a century, celebrations just seem to be in order. 

My celebrations came in three ways, each very special and perfect for me.  The first celebration was a week before my birthday.  The members of the Finer Things Club surprised me with a Day at Churchill Downs, complete with a brunch buffet and cake from Homemade Pie Kitchen.  What is the Finer Things Club? It is a take off of the club from The Office, where life is focused on the finer things. We eat at nice places, do classy things, and rise above the commoners.  Lest that last part sounds too snobby, it's all in fun, people, relax.  It was a great day of wonderful food and fun.  I'm a Kentucky girl - specifically a Louisville girl - and I love to watch the horses.  In fact, I even got my picture with a horse....a costumed horse that is.  He even got on one knee and proposed.  I'm not sure whether to be disturbed or flattered by that.  Our server even gave me a Derby and Oaks glass from the 2015 events.  It was a great day!

The day before my actual birthday, my OPCs (the Louisville branch - Christie, Beth and Amy) planned a surprise event.  They told me to be at church at 2pm and that was about all I knew.  I showed up at my appointed time and the room was decorated in purple and gold - my favorite color and the color of my jubilee.  It was simple, yet elegant.  As I walked into the room, I was told there were people that had come miles to celebrate.  My friend Julie from E-Town, my friend Alisa, her Mom and sister, Karen, from Lexington (though Karen is in Louisville), my friend, Toby, from Nashville, and Mark and Sharon, also from Nashville.  Wow, just wow.  If that wasn't enough, Julie had come up with a amazingly memorable idea to treasure the day.  She had drawn a tree on a canvas and asked everyone to leave their thumbprint as a leaf and include their name to remember those that were there.  Then, a love seat had been set up with a backdrop so people could come and get photos and chat with me.  I'm an introvert and not someone who will flit about the room making my presence known, and my girls know that, so they accommodated.  In addition, purple cards were collected where people wrote a reason they loved me.  Again, wow.  The dessert table was a plenty, and my cake was delicious!  I was supposed to have a "Carol Cake" made by Carol (imagine that) and always oh so yummy!  But, due to recent eye surgery she couldn't make the cake so Jessica came out of retirement to do my cake.  Literally that was one of the best gifts ever!  Ironically, she also made the cake for my 40th birthday celebration.  Lots of great chats with friends, sweet cards, precious gifts and most of all the love I felt.

The final celebration of my trifecta was dinner out with my OPCs.  I never tire of spending time with these sisters and I feel blessed that no matter what happens, we are always there for each other.  I reflect on the times we've stood by each other at funeral homes - celebrated births of children - got loopy during road trips - laughed until we cried - provided levity and love during sicknesses and hospital visits.  We ate at a very nice restaurant with lots of "fru-fru" food, as Christie called it, but if we had eaten at Waffle House, I wouldn't have been any less happy.  These are the Steel Magnolias of my life.  Oh there are others, but these are the ones that sacrificed so much to make my Golden Jubilee special.

As we were talking at dinner, I was told of part of the celebration that never even dawned on me during the last year.  On the 28th of each month, they did something to make sure I was loved.  I do remember getting gifts for no reason and wondering "what is that for?" and the date never dawned on me.  Since the 28th was my birthday, that was their plan.  A year of celebration.  And that's why these girls are special.

I can say it a thousand times, but it never seems enough.  I'm blessed beyond what I deserve.  Remember that list of where I thought I'd be at 50?  Yeah, I'm not there, but I am right where I need to be and oh so thankful God's Plan is better than mine.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Friendships Are Like TV Shows

Recently I've become a return watcher of The Facts of Life now that it is appearing on many cable stations in reruns.  This show about four girls in high school and college was popular when I was in high school and college and I loved it!  Still do.  Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie all had a friendship that stood the test of time.  When I thought about this show, and some other rerun favorites, I realized that female friendships can be classified by three different shows....

The Facts of Life, as I mentioned earlier, was my high school/college picture of girlfriends.  At times I envied Blair, but was really Natalie.  And now that I'm older I think I've ultimately turned into Mrs. Garrett.  As I recently watched the reruns, I see how life issues were dealt with in the 80s and heave a sigh that I wish that they were handled in a similar way on TV today, instead of sitcoms trying to take a stand for the latest controversial topic.

Designing Women was another of my favorites.  I adored Charlene!  She was who I wanted to be.  That one who felt like she was born too late and wanted to marry a soldier...and she eventually did.  Suzanne made me laugh and her sister, Julia, was the matriarch.  This was the show in my 20s that I identified as a picture of female friendships.  I think I was most like Charlene, the hopeless romantic, though some people thought I was more Mary Jo.  Bernice was one of my favorites too.  The episode where she wore the tree skirt as an actual skirt I remember laughing until I cried.  I believe this may have been the same episode when Charlene's baby was born; a two-parter that featured Dolly Parton. (Triple Score!)  Now that I'm older, I'm probably more like Julia, but I hope some day to be like Bernice!

The Golden Girls is one of those shows I never tire of.  Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia living in Miami in their twilight years.  It's sad to think that only Betty White is left from the cast.  When this show aired - in fact it debuted 30 years ago - I was far from their age, but I still loved the show.  My girlfriends and I would joke that we'd grow old and move in together in a house like Blanche's in Miami.  I love Rose, and not just because of the name, but because of her happy innocence.  She was always the one I'd want to be if cast in the show.  As I grow older and celebrate my Golden Jubilee this year, there are episodes of this show that touch me more now than they did 30 years ago.  Friendships like that are precious.

I love to watch all of these shows in light of each other, realizing that friendships last and blossom no matter what age or stage of life we're in.  You take the good, you take the bad, and say, "Thank you for being a friend."