unblocked birthdays

When the conversation moves towards birthdays I start exiting the building in spirit if not in actual physicality. When I was young, pre-six, birthdays I am sure were the usual mixture of good and bad that every other day was.

On my seventh birthday I discovered that my daddy would not be visiting because it was his girlfriend, Gwendolyn’s birthday. A relative of mine named it “Witches Day” and people wept. I didn’t, I went off up the hill and lit a wee fire.

The day I became eight I was encouraged to curse my, by now, stepmother and this ritual was repeated each year until she woke a few days after my tenth birthday paralysed. There was no need to curse the next year.

What a focus to have as a birthday, the ability to paralyse a woman 30 miles away, the inability for a child to celebrate a birthday and a man caught in the headlights. Gwendolyn was scared of the hold I had over my daddy so she kept us apart. We were apart for too long.

Every time I moved I gave him my address and phone number. Not that I am still counting but sixteen years ago he rang me. I was living in a castle; he wanted to speak to my children. I did not refuse but I set limits about when and how. He failed.

My female relatives told me later he only rang because he was drunk. He was drunk every day so that was not a valid reason. Gwendolyn, however, was not present. That was the key difference. She was having a bypass, triple, quadruple, quintuplet, who knows? But she had a stroke and he became a carer.

We finally had something in common but we didn’t communicate in this new community of caring. He didn’t take to caring very well; he drank copiously and met a new girlfriend. I think he probably always had girlfriends just one or two stick out.

The mill owner’s house with its servant quarters and my non-birthdays are all in the past. I am not ready to re-join the community of birthday keepers but every now and then I let it slip. Twenty five years ago I prayed to God for a baby and while I was doing that a girl-child was born on the other side of the world to a big family. She has happily lost too much weight, a bobble head on a skinny frame.

I told a friend on Friday I might write about birthdays one day but I was blocked at the moment. Well I am not blocked anymore and I have written about birthdays and I am thankful I have managed that. It is not a huge story; it is just what it is. A sad tale of thoughtless adults and impressionable children.

My daddy asked me to call him Tony when I was seven; very avant garde, but I needed a dad not just another man. God is my daddy, he is always around. Whenever I need him he is there. And we hang out even when it is just for fun, he guides me when I do stuff wrong to show me the right way. He is everything I need from a parent and more. It would have been nice to have a human dad but knowing I have a heavenly father I can rest in that.

So I consider my birth-day to be the day I became a new creation, transformed, and made new. God is my father and he loves me. I will continue to keep the day to myself and God because the emotions it invokes are difficult for me, forty years of difficult but within a few breaths I remember, this is different, this is real, and this is for God. 


One comment

  1. Suzie,Thank you for sharing this moving (pun intended) account of paralysis. For, it is, after all, a story of paralyzing physical and emotional disability, of relationships and birthdays stopped in time, and of staggering miscommunication.As incredible as it might sound, you were not the only girl-child someone claimed was capable of cursing another human. I speak from experience but also from the persepective of huMANity, where something as random as a person’s gender can be used for all sorts of evil calculations and condemnations.I’ve never been able to put my finger on just why celebrating my birthday seems all wrong. But, after reading this piece, it only took one brief look over the shoulder of my subconscious teenage self, to see it plainly. Misplaced guilt can be a crushing burden, leaving bruises all over the heart and soul.Great idea, to celebrate the birth-date we realized who our real Dad is. I think I’ll steal that, if you don’t mind.Good to see you writing again, even though it’s about such a sensitive subject. That’s often when we do our best writing, isn’t it? When someone or something has stirred up the soup of what makes us who we are! Keep writing because, I for one, will be reading.CharleneP.S. — Critique: Why did you introduce, tantalizingly briefly, the child born on the other side of the world who, "has happily lost too much weight, a bobble head on a skinny frame"? Why did she enter the story, and where does she go in it?

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