My birthday is this Monday. I will be 57 years old. When you reach the half century mark and beyond, birthdays are a time for memories. A gift from Bev Mahone of the Baby Boomer Divas Group (this adorable banana seat bike ornament, complete with teeny playing card and clothes pin!) stimulated some thoughts of birthday presents past.
Fifty years ago all I wanted for my birthday was a brand new, bright blue Schwinn bicycle with thin tires. I was the youngest of three children and, as was often the case in fifties families, I got a lot of hand-me-downs. One of those was my older brother's beat-up red bicycle. It was rusty, it didn't have cool ribbons that would flutter in the breeze, it had old-fashioned fat tires and it was a boy's bike! I wanted my own, gleaming speed demon to terrorize the neighborhood with!
I could picture it in my mind - complete with horn, shiny ribbons draping from the handles and a basket on the front for all my most special possessions. I was already hording a deck of cards and some spring loaded clothes pins so the bike would make that cool sound as I pedaled the mean streets of Kansas!
As my birthday grew closer, and my spying had been unsuccessful in revealing any hint of a new bike, I began to worry that my new ride was not going to be forthcoming. Sadly, I was right - I did not get my new bike for my birthday. We were not "made of money" as my mother would say. "You have a perfectly good bicycle to ride. You need new school clothes more." And so on my 7th birthday, half a century ago this Monday, I spent my birthday unhappily wearing new clothes and riding an old bike to school.
I have learned a lot in those fifty years, half a century can bring a certain amount of wisdom. I have learned to live with disappointments. I have learned it is not easy to survive in this world, let alone have all the luxuries one desires. And I have learned that my mother was right about many things. Mom, if you're listening from beyond the vale, I'm sorry I was such a brat about that bike. I'm sorry I ruined your enjoyment of the gifts you gave me. I wish I could have one more birthday with you so I could tell you how much I love you and appreciate all you did for me. Oh, and one more thing, because of all you taught me I am able to buy my own bikes and stuff now.