There are birthdays more memorable than others. Mother would remember the year I turned five, when after the little girls had left the party, my older sister Mary Ellen came down with measles. Carol and I both followed with that ailment, then by the time we were about well, Mary Ellen brought home chicken pox as well, and we followed that path, too. In the midst, I had pneumonia and Carol had a heart murmur. Since Daddy traveled from Monday through Friday all over Texas and New Mexico, Mother had her hands full!
The year I turned 21, I spent my birthday in Roswell, New Mexico with Betty Ely's family. We went to a Mexican restaurant where I had my first sopapillas. I didn't grasp the concept of biting off a corner and pouring the honey inside. Somebody, Betty's mother I think, sacrificed her pristine sopapilla for the one I had cut up.
I reached a quarter of a century on my graduate school friend Beth's wedding day. I had driven all night from Nashville to Richmond and, on getting to her house, was too tired to sleep. I stood in front of a mirror and discovered my first wrinkle.
Forty loomed as a barrier ahead of me for six months, for I had decided if a girl didn't grow up by the time she turned forty, she wasn't going to get there. I exercised, dieted, lost a chunk of weight, and started looking for and found a profession with a paycheck to take the place of the private practice of law. On my forty-first birthday I was half-heartedly engaged in a campaign for judge of County Court at Law No. 2. That would change five days later when the Commissioners' Court announced one of my two opponents had been appointed to the bench and was the best qualified of the three. That made me mad enough seven weeks later I beat their "best choice" and the other candidate without a runoff.
Fifty eight occurred on one of the longest days of my life, literally. On January 20, I fell outside the Roman Coliseum and experienced the Italian medical system firsthand. On the 22nd, with eleven stitches in my head, I spent twelve to fifteen hours of a thirty hour day getting to Abilene.
Sixty I'll remember always. I had dressed most of the way when I heard the smallest dog, Tia, in water. It seemed way too loud to be the dish in the kitchen they use. Investigation found the sunken living room had become a wading pool and the "junk room" bedroom had sopping carpet. The source? The hot water heater closet--we'd had the same thing about three years ago, spending lots of money to bring the old house up to code as well as getting a new water heater. I'd loaned our carpet cleaner to Jeffrey and Samantha on December 10, and called to ask for it's return--immediately! Jeffrey brought it, battling his way in through hungry dogs who didn't understand why they hadn't been fed, the first order of business on ANY day. I was to qualify the jury, but I called and Judge Harper graciously took that task for the day. I got to the courthouse in time for my own jury trial, only to be met with a request to shuffle the jury. It's an age-old practice, but with a panel of 18 it really seems kind of silly, and we hadn't shuffled in a long while. The trial, with Gary's on each side, plodded along through the day. January 22 is the day sales tax reports are due, and of course I had procrastinated. I got it done at lunch only to realize I'd left my checkbook at home. I had enough cash to go out and get a money order, so all went well. The jury came back at ten until five, of course. You can send a jury out at two or at 4:30 and they're going to come back within ten minutes of five. I'd checked with Mike and the first plumber said it was in the slab, that he couldn't fix it. He was again waiting for a plumber. That one came and went, and we're expecting them back tomorrow. When the jury came in, I splashed the water I was drinking, generously sprinkling my computer keyboard. Mike's mother has been staying with us the last two weeks, and I learned she'd gone home to Brownwood. We might have gone out, but neither was particularly in the mood, so I picked up salads and we ate at home. Wayne Cox came by with still warm date bread for dessert, and I spent part of the rest of the evening pulling more water out of the carpet. The best moment of the day came early, when a florist brought in a beautiful silk flower arrangement from my parents and sisters. Yes, some birthdays you remember better than others.