Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gimme!! My birthday request

Some of you got me wonderful gifts...

From my adopted mom, who went and paid my car insurance for me since I hadn't gotten to it, to my writerfriend who got me a kickass Van Gogh Exploding TARDIS mug, I got some very cool presents.

A bunch of you? You didn't get me anything *wails!*

So, I have a request. This will make it all better, I promise. But first I have to tell you a story...

I couldn't sleep the night before my birthday. We're having a weird heatwave in Ohio and I don't have ac, only two small fans. Usually, that's more than enough, but the night of the 10th/eve of the 11th? Sweltering in my remodeled barn home. When it finally cooled enough that I could attempt to sleep, I moved to my bed...

And stabbed my heel on a piece of glass from godknows where. Blood squirted out of my foot and onto my favorite quilt. Bawling, because I ruined my favorite quilt with my stupid blood, I yanked out the glass and rinsed my foot. I put a bandage on it and tried to sleep for a couple hours.

I was waked on the morning of my birthday by my boys yelling at me. One forgot a book, just little things, but they were angry voices and neither remembered it was my birthday before they headed off to school. Since today is my one 'late' day a week, I won't see either of the cranky testosterone junkies until bedtime tonight.

I then headed to the living room to sit in my favorite chair. The cat joined me, seating herself on the back--which is fine. Sweet even that she wanted to hang out with me.

You know, until she horked a hairball on my shoulder. My daughter, as if feeling out of the make mom miserable campaign, started complaining about the lack of ham in the refrigerator. I'd bought bagels and philly, but I forgot HAM??? It was unacceptable, she advised me.

But you know what? Compared to 2001, this birthday ROCKS.

I'm not watching people fall to their death, search for their family members, stare at the skies not knowing when the next horror will come or where it will hit.

On my birthday in 2001, I woke up to a beautiful sunshiney day. All three of my babies (and since the youngest was less than a month old, the term babies actually applies) woke in great moods and we were hanging out in my living room with the sliding glass door open to let in as much sun and fresh air as possible. I haven't always had the best of health so I'd been told I probably wouldn't survive the delivery of my now one month old I was celebrating a birthday win--I shouldn't be around to see this birthday. How cool is this?

When my mom called, I figured she was merely calling to say, "Happy Birthday!"

Instead, she asked, "Are you watching the tv?"
"Yup," I chirped. "Rugrats."
"Turn on the news."
Her tone sent chills rushing across my arms and I shook my head as if to rid myself of the feeling of foreboding. "What channel?"
"Doesn't matter."

It didn't matter. I fell to my knees when the second plane hit. When people fell like paper from the windows, I wept. When the tower fell, I sprung into action.

I needed to protect my kids. Take them somewhere safe. I wasn't sure where 'safe' was, but I'm near the Canadian border--within a few hours of driving range to that border. If America was under attack, I needed to get my children OUT of America.

I'd like to say I had thoughts of helping others, but my first parental instinct was to protect my kids. Only later did I want to do something for others beyond my babies.

I packed them up, a few days of clothes and food and diapers. Stopped at my mother's on my way out of town to see them say on the news that they'd closed the borders. It seemed we weren't running after all.

I went to my son's grandmothers and began the vigil so many kept that day. Watching the news, watching the replays, weeping. Worrying. Upon leaving her house, I saw long lines at the gas stations, closed businesses, a small town brought to a screeching halt by the events of the day.

Once I got back to my apartment, I put the kids to bed early to begin my nighttime vigil of the news. They aired constant streaming information that day. Darkness had overtaken our village by the time the knock came at the sliding glass door.

My dear friend, Ryan, stood outside, a sixpack of Mike's Hard Lemonade in hand. "Happy Birthday," he said. Suddenly I remembered. It was my birthday. He was the only one who remembered. I told him as much and he gave his signature crooked and self-deprecating grin. "This is kind of for me. I figured I wouldn't get any sleep unless you drank some. It will calm you down."

He stayed that night. I drank one of the drinks and curled up on one couch while he stretched out on another, both facing the television and the horrific news as it streamed. Knowing he was near, that it wasn't just me here to protect my babies from whatever new terror the night could bring, allowed me to get some sleep.

That horrible birthday taught me one important thing...

1. None of the things we spend so much time and energy worrying about really matter.

It's not about the gifts, the one upping of the Joneses, the what are you wearing or who are your friends. It's about family. It's about friends who are there for you when you're scared in the dark. It's about people who know you need them and show up even when you don't ask.

Which made me look at all future birthdays in a whole new light. I like presents (I like CAKE. Man, do I love cake.) but if I never got another one? I could live with that.

Sooooo now you're wondering what I want for my birthday since I said I didn't want presents, but I titled this post, "GIMME!!"

Could everyone who reads this far do me a favor, instead? One random act of kindness.

If it's anonymous, all the better. On my birthday in 2001, people did some awesome acts of kindness. Maybe they weren't enough to balance out the horror, but they did amazing things. People who owned boats pulled off the most massive and fast evacuation in all of history. People gave water to those walking out of the Battery. People went into those towers and died trying to save strangers.

I don't expect anyone to rush into a burning building, but could you do something? Buy a stranger's coffee, pick up a piece of litter from the street, if you see someone crying-hold their hand. Just one act--I'm not greedy, after all.

If everyone who reads this does just one little thing, my birthday will be the best birthday ever. You don't have to tell me what thing you did (You're welcome to. I always love hearing from you all, so tell me whatever. I actually answer, too, so long as you're not trying to sell me something/date me from another country/ask to see my breasts.) just do it. I don't have to know what it was or that you did it. You'll know you did...and it will mean a lot to me, regardless.

So, yes, this is my birthday request. I love you guys. Thanks for reading one old lady's rambling.



  1. My first worry was my children (who had just left for school), too. From one mother to another, Excellent post, Virg! Consider your request done. Happy Birthday!

  2. Hey Virg,

    I'm a mom from OCA, friends with that Social Studies teacher from there too, If you ask her she'll tell you who I am.
    I don't know when, or how but you definitely have a random act from me. I'll try to let you know when I do it, but I tend to for get that stuff, but I won't forget to do it. God Bless you for seeing the other side.

    Warm Hugs and Best Wishes
    Trixie Blue

    1. I'll ask her later today. Thanks so much, Trixie. *hug* Hope to run into you at a field trip some time :)

  3. I get weepy on 9/11, and I don'y want to think or to write about it. The first image that comes to my mind is sitting in MY corner on Mom's and Dad's blue and green plaid couch in Ohio watching the 9/11 images being replayed over and over again...not moving from that spot for an entire week.

    How I got on that couch is my story. I'd been visiting my parents in Ohio and was scheduled to fly home to Arizona the morning of 9/11. My stepfather drove me to the airport and dropped me off in front of the main entrance. After his hasty departure, I looked around and saw no one. CMH isn't always bustling, but seeing not a single person was unsettling. Not even the people in the advance check-in kiosks were there. I headed inside with my luggage and found three people in line. As I was standing there, a woman was speaking about a plane hitting the Trade Center in New York City.

    When what she was saying sunk in...I began to panic. My first impulse was to shake her, slap her and say, "How dare you! How can you casually drop that information like this? My son is there!"

    I moved out of the line and I'm not even sure how. The next thing I know I'm standing in front of a TV and watching the second plane hit. I dig for my phone to call my son and of course I don't get him. I tried calling him until my phone went dead. It was hours until I finally reached him using the pay phone in the terminal. He'd been late to work that day, and saw the plane hit from the ferry crossing from New Jersey to NY. I collapsed, a screaming crying mess on the airport floor after I hung up.

    I couldn't get a plane home for a week, hence there I was back on my parent's couch. Watching the news, looking at my recently deceased younger sister's picture on top of the TV.

    A month later, after hearing requests that vacationers should come to NYC to spend their money to help the economy, my husband and I took our son, daughter and grandson to NY. Our first sight of the city coming up from the trains at Grand Central Station nearly sent me into hysterics again.

    We came up by Madison Square Garden and had no idea what was happening. People were packed like sardines for what looked like miles. I thought it had happened again!

    In reality what I was seeing was a job fair for which thousands and thousands had come to apply.

    After 911 my son changed his career from VP with a Fortune Five-hundred Company, to one with the ever-present worry of impending doom (for me) working for the State Dept at US Embassies, (including Pakistan). Since that fateful day, I’ve lost both of my parents, (MY place on the plaid sofa is gone forever) wrote and published over 40 novel and novellas, moved from AZ to OH, held my daughter’s hand 24/7 through months of recovery from stage III colon cancer after the birth of her third child, listened to the news that her two boys have autism, and now I’m dealing with my second occurrence of breast cancer. There was some other creepy stuff I could add…and good, like the adoption of a grandson from China, as well as two more grandchildren since that fateful day.

    It just seems in my mind, that day was a touch-stone of doom. I'm so sorry it makes your birthday sad.

    Anyway, I didn't see this until today, so my random act of kindness will have to wait. I had chemo today and feel crappy.

    1. Brit you are an amazing woman. Stay strong and my prayer and Blessing to you and your family. Bright Blessings )O(

  4. Virginia, Your story is the same for many of us. Well except the birthday part. :) Your Birthday Wish for us to do a good deed is the start of a great plan for us all to do at least once a month even. Showing our kids, grandkids, neicees and nephews, that an act of kindness is a special gift. I giv eyou my promise to do something kind for other at leat once a month with you in mind. Bright BLessings and Happy Birthday. )O(