Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy (20th) Birthday to me!!!

my cake with 20 candles------(stop laughing!!!)

My son doesn’t like birthdays; not for me, not for himself, not for anyone he loves because to him it means that people get older and then they die.

I think this fear comes from my grandparents. They lived into their 90s and died within 3 months of each other. But before they died, my son (who was around 8 or 9) would visit them with me on a few occasions, and the very last time he saw my grandmother, she looked really old to him … scary old!!

And my grandfather could barely stand and slept most of the time. It was tough to watch because ever since I was a kid he would be so active and always doing something rewarding for himself. This small Italian man, named Americo, wasn’t much of a student but a talent in so many other ways. He was a ship builder and built a huge boat for his family. He was a plumber to support his family, he was a great Italian cook, and, in retirement, he taught the elderly people at the local nursing homes the craft of woodworking. And above all, he was a boxer. He loved boxing and tried endlessly to teach his 5 grandchildren to love it too. But we didn’t. He would painstakingly try to give us boxing lessons (and accordion lessons too, shhh, don’t tell anyone) but we hated it and would let him know in our own way. (Why he couldn’t teach us Italian was lost to me!!)

But while this frail, old man was trying to stand in his hours of death, he jabbed Nick a few familiar boxing moves with every bit of strength he could muster and Nick responded back with the same moves and loved it—his very first boxing lesson. My aunt yelled to Nick to be careful…but my grandfather waived her off and enjoyed those few moments with him, and I’ve never seen this little Italian man happier. He finally got his boxer.

After that day, Nick started asking me a series of questions: like “Why?” "Why do people get old and wrinkly? I don’t want you to get old and wrinkly because that means you will die.” He then started obsessing about age and didn’t enjoy birthdays, even his own. I tired to explain to him that age doesn’t happen overnight, it takes 100 years. But the theory of age and time is still abstract to him. So we enjoy birthdays in a more subtle way; like having lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant, or at my home with a few family members and cake and presents and a cross my fingers promise that we can do our previous age over again.

So this morning, as one might note, he was not so pleased to say happy birthday to me. And when my parents called me for their annual song-singing of Happy Birthday, and loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, he looked more horrified than happy. But he did ask how old I was. So I asked him how old he thought I was.

He paused and then paused some more, and said 20?

I smiled!!

And it's snowing again in Massachusetts!!


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Happy Birthday!

What a good son saying you look 20! And a good great-grandson! That was a very sweet story about the boxing. Thanks for sharing it.

Hope you have a fabulous day!

Kate said...

That is sweet indeed. Happy Birthday!

Casdok said...

Cute! Happy birthday and hope you have a nerry christmas!

Mama Mara said...

My Rocky once asked me if we got wrinkly after all those years of bathing. Snort.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Twentysomething!