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One tradition started in our family, by our mother of course, was the Telling of the Birthday Story. “Tell me about the day I was born,” we would beg, in the days before a third or fourth birthday, or—heaven help us—the days before a third or fourth sibling was scheduled to bump us.
My mother would always oblige. I never got tired of my birthday story and always wanted to hear it like it was the most important story of my life. Here is one version I remember:
“Well,” my mother said (I was four, on the carpet near the stereo, listening to Hansel and Gretel), “I just knew you were coming that day. So I went to the grocery store and did some laundry, and when your dad came home from work, I told him this was the big day!
“And the hospital was right across the street, so we just walked over and there you were, Katie Jane! I held you up to the third-floor window so your brother and sisters could see, and we couldn’t find your brother for hours after because he was barefoot on his bicycle, singing about having a new baby sister. All the neighbors gave him money and candy!”
My family knows that the-day-you-were-born-stories are the best. I think I can speak for most of us when I say that the-day-you-die stories simply don’t compare.
It’s spring most everywhere, pink and white blossoms. Some folks are considering having a human child. Some of us are considering adopting pets again.
In case you are considering adopting animals, you probably already know that you’ll have to tell a birthday story one day too. For me, it happened one bad night when the girls wanted everything at once: “Why did you pick me? Why did you pick her? She doesn’t even look like me! I hate her! I want to go home!”
Lucy and Sara never got along from the start. Three years ago, I got a Flying Wallenda and Elizabeth Taylor.
“Would you like to know your birthday story?” I said. I was trying to get them settled in bed. They circled and stopped circling.
“Who do you think came first?” I said. Sara splayed her limbs as if she could reach the moon.
“That’s right,” I said. “Who came second then?”
Lucy, my black one, blinked. She didn't know.
I prompted: “I was told to sit still in a room full of kitties and wait for anybody else who might like me to come over. Who came second?”
Lucy--with her big black eyes, her black noggin, her soft bear paws--softly head-butted my knee. I did, mama.
Of course you did, sweetheart.
Happy Birthday to Adopted Pets Everywhere.