Sunday, July 23, 2006

A cake, a card, and a cast of hundreds.

Yes, I do have a birthday coming up. A lot has changed in my life since the day I was born in 1945. That was just after World War II, in the home of a mid-wife in Heidműhlen, Germany, north of Hamburg. My mother and sister and I then lived in a corner of a fire hall, with a number of other refugees, in nearby Groβ Steinrade. Eventually, we found a home in Heidműhlen, where my parents had friends and relatives.

My parents, my sister, and two brothers, had fled from a German enclave in an area near Warsaw, Poland, when the Russian army started advancing westward towards Germany. Along the way, my two brothers died, my father got separated from the rest of the family, and there we were, in Germany. My family had no money, no prospects, and no place to live. I had no brothers and no father. At least the fighting had stopped.

My father eventually found us. Tired of the state of affairs in Europe and needing to get away from all the bad memories, my parents decided to emigrate to Canada. We arrived here in May or June of 1949.

Being a forward looking sort of guy, I really don't remember all that much about the past. I do have some childhood memories, both good and bad, and I have written about some of them before, both here in this blog and elsewhere. Hearing about what my parents endured in their lives, then watching them cope with life as I grew up, showed me that human beings are incredibly resilient and strong, when they need to be. My parents never whined or complained, and I have developed a contempt for those who go through life complaining about how tough things are, and always expecting others to 'do something' about it. Then: another law, another tax, another snippet of freedom lost.

I am grateful for what I have. I love every day that I am privileged to live. I don't want anything from anyone. I just want to live my life and take care of my family.

Still, I have attained geezerhood, so I guess I deserve something to celebrate my birthday. But what?

Glad you asked. On my birthday, I expect to come home to:
  • A beautiful birthday cake, with a creamy, but not-too-sweet filling, baked by an Italian bakery nearby. It will have one candle, to remind me that it is my birthday. It will not have the actual number of candles necessary to indicate the years that I have attained. They wouldn't fit on the cake, and when lit they might set the house ablaze.
  • A card that wishes me the best for the occasion, but doesn't rub in how old I actually am.
  • Sincere best wishes from my wife and son. I don't need any more toys or gadgets. I can't think of a single thing that I really 'need.'
  • Luciano Pavarotti, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Boston Pops Orchestra performing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in my back yard. They would all easily fit back there. They almost certainly won't fit into the back yard of wherever we end up moving to next, so this would be the perfect time and place for them all to make an appearance. This opportunity will likely not ever exist again.
See? I don't ask for much. Consider that, for my fortieth birthday, my wife sent a stripper to my office to entertain and amuse me. My employees laughed about that for months afterwards. Naturally, I was a good sport about it, watched the young lady take her clothes off, and didn't make even the slightest complaint. Wasn't that laudable behaviour on my part? So, how much trouble could it be to fill this year's wish list for me?

Now, I will wait until Tuesday to see what will actually happen. Don't tell my wife and son about my expectations, though. I want to see what they come up with on their own.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. The integrity with which you view advesity is a rare and valuable trait.

    Those who have had to be strong are, in general, stronger than those who have had it easy all of their lives.

    My mother, also from a German then Canadian background, would say to me, "Courage grows strong in a wound." I have never allowed myself to be weak. For long.

    Finally, wouldn't you want Marilyn in the background with all the other musicians singing "Happy Birthday"?

  2. How could I forget Marilyn? I truly must be getting old. Her birthday performance for John Kennedy had every straight male with a pulse aching with..., well, you know.

    I think I am going to get myself checked out for early onset senility.


    Write about your memories or your history any time! ~ I love it!

    A stripper?? You have a wife cooler than most! Did she do it because she loves you or for a laugh or was there a reciprocal advantage to it? ;)

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Atavist. Thank you for always being honest and encouraging with your comments on my blog.

    I wish you another prosperous year with your friends, family, business and on The Atavist, we all love to read you!

  4. Thank you, both, for your kind words. The stripper? My wife knows I have an appreciation of female beauty, but that I wouldn't typically visit a strip joint or even those supposedly classy 'gentlemens' clubs.' So, she brought the stripper to me. She has a great sense of humour about these things and I have always appreciated that.