The 15th of June ushers in a season of birthdays and other anniversaries that rivals Christmas in expense. Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s natal day kicks off the season. The 16th is my brother’s birthday and the 23rd is my father’s. Father’s Day usually falls in there somewhere. My mother will turn 69 on July 6th and I hit 50 in August. Niece’s, nephew’s, and friend’s are scattered about between now and September.
HMOKeefe and I met online in June. He also will mark the two-year anniversary of his bone marrow transplant in June. His daughter’s birthday is in June.
My birthday resembles a bacchanal jubilee event since the entrance of HMOKeefe in my life. Appalled that I didn’t’ do much to celebrate mine (due, in part, to overdosing on cake after the June-July events), he persuaded me to mark mine with great fanfare and hedonism.
I’m a quadruple Leo according to my astrological chart, so the persuasion wasn’t all that rough. I went from not much to marking the day with self-indulgence, to a week of intense partying, to a month. My own birthday damages my wallet just as much as the others’ I celebrate. I’ve taken to giving my self a present each year. With a budget of roughly a $100, I give myself something I would never buy under normal circumstances – something I want but can’t justify.
Chef Boy ‘R Mine, however, is the champ of Birthday Season. The only child, the only grandchild, and resembling me far too much for his own good, the anniversary of his birth is a circus. As he got older, it got more and more difficult to blow his mind with a stellar present.
When he was 12 a new friend came to visit. In tow was her dog Whomper. Child of Mine felt instantly in love with her little dachshund. At the time, he was already moving into his faux angry young man phase (although he insists it’s not anger, but angst), so watching him lavish love and attention on Whomper was a bit startling.
While not thrilled with the idea of a puppy, the ex and I agreed a dachshund was in order to mark the 13th. Presumably the Fruit of My Loins was old enough to care for and train the puppy. After a rather frantic search, Ex O’Mine came home on the 11th of June with a little, wiggly body of unconditional love and cuteness.
The idea was to hide her from the boy until the 15th.
Well. That was impossible. I hadn’t realized 8-week-old puppies could be so noisy.
I spent a day or two locked in the master bedroom with a puppy that melted my heart. She and I bonded. Big time. And since we did, any time I left the bedroom, she whined and whimpered. On the 13th, we gave in and realized it was impossible. Uncharacteristically, the boy slept late that morning, so the opportunity to slip a puppy into bed with him was irresistible.
Boy oh boy was Chef Boy ‘R Mine surprised. Since I had been adamant for so long that there would be no dogs in this house, he was shocked and intensely happy. Not only had we managed to come up with a great birthday present, we had come up with the best present ever.
He named her Stevie after Steve Prefontaine, a cross-country runner he was emulating.
Everyone who met Stevie fell in love with her; she’s the standard by which all dogs are measured. She was a cracker-jack. She also thought she was my dog. She went running with the guys. She cuddled with them. But she wouldn’t go to sleep at night until I did and, given a choice, it was always my lap that she settled into.
A few years later, she died in a tragic accident that I still can’t talk about without tearing up. I regret, intensely, not taking more pictures of her.
In my kitchen is a carved wooden statue of a dachshund. I found it a few years ago and bought it for my birthday.
I didn’t take a lot of photos until I was given a new camera for my birthday. I hadn’t realized what a pain my old camera was until the new one entered my life; but the contrariness of the old one probably explains why there are years of my life undocumented.
Some days I can barely remember Stevie’s features. I look at the one good picture of her that I have and she comes into focus again. Even so, the focus is getting blurrier with time. I miss her still.
Take photos of your life – the big, the small, the things that capture your attention, the people and flora and fauna that rock your world. Take pictures of the stuff you’ve worked hard to acquire. Capture the scenery. Document the celebrations. Mark it all and keep it.