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Birthday girl and her brother celebrating the Big 2

Birthday girl and her brother celebrating the Big 2

It was a dark and stormy night. Not really—instead it was the end of a hot and sweltering day when I came into the world just before sunset in Kearney, Nebraska. I just barely made it into June.

And most years my birthday feels nothing like the rest of June. Baby, it’s pretty much always hot when my “queen for a day” day comes along.

The story goes that “back in the day” hospitals did not have air conditioning in most rooms. The small town hospital maternity ward where my mother gave birth to me had only one room with a window air conditioner, which was reserved for women recovering from cesarean sections. On that particular June 30th, five women ended up in that room, although only one woman had her baby by C-section. That day’s hot, hot, hot baby boom led the other four women to agree—very willingly—to stay together in tight quarters.

My mom’s friend, doped up from surgery, kept looking at her and slurring, “What’s she doing here?” Took her awhile to figure out that every woman in that room had her own brand new baby girl and no one was there just to visit her.

Ever since that day many of my birthdays have involved water, thanks to typical June 30 weather. That and/or baseball games—first my brother’s and then my son’s games.

Well, I don’t plan to see any baseball tonight, but I’ve already been to deep water exercise this morning—which was somewhat like my own personal pool party, right? Thank goodness for that because my next planned activity is my weekly 6:00 p.m. track practice. Clouds would be really, really nice—if the Big Guy is listening and would like to offer that as a birthday gift, I—and the other women on the track, I’m sure—would be truly grateful.

Birthday girl watching the goldfish swim

Birthday girl watching the goldfish swim

Don’t have big plans for this day/night, but it’s always good to reach another year of this crazy experience we call life and to still be able to do most of the activities I love. Hot days, cold days, rainy days, fair days—may I never forget how blessed I am to get do them all again. So thankful for the people who have been with me on this journey—those who were with me right from the start—many of whom I miss now—and those whom I have met along the way—and those I have yet to get to know.

The future’s still so bright on this sunny June day—going to keep wearing my shades. And, like my mother before me, will search out a little coolness for relief from the heat, when necessary.

Welcome, New-Year-to-Me. Together, we’re going to put the sizzle in these next twelve months. Ssssssssss . . .

Some of the women standing by the limo. (Picture taken for us, 2015)

Some of the women standing by the limo. (Picture taken for us, 2015)

Just when you thought that limousine was full of hot young women, you might have been surprised to see the women from my bible study climb out—or lumber out if we want to be truthful. Keep in mind that I am the youngest in the group—thank goodness my hip is healing because it took quite a bit of effort to shimmy back and forth from the depths of that stretch limo. The more limber folks among us did our best to scoot to the back whenever loading up.

So why would a group of “mature” bible study ladies hire a limo?

I guess because we have no access to a church van and because we wanted to take our road trip together—while avoiding the increasingly hostile traffic in the region.

And what a road trip. These “ladies who did lunch with me” not only offered to go 70 miles (one way) to see my daughter’s senior capstone art show as a group, but also to treat me to the gift of transportation with them for the ride. What a great showing of support for both my daughter and me—have appreciated all their prayers for my family over the years, but this expedition was something else.

Let’s just say that not driving while also not being able to see how our driver was handling that crazy roadway was extremely relaxing. (Perhaps a little bit of a metaphor about control there? Hm.)

No doubt the arrival of our bustling group shattered the illusion of a quiet morning for Max, one of the owners of ARTISAN FRAMING, the custom framing shop where the works are being exhibited. But, ever the professional, he took our presence in stride and continued constructing frames despite the considerable change in noise level. I did the best I could to play gallery host to my daughter’s works, but was relieved when she and her brother arrived together—without a limo driver their journey took a bit longer.

She took over answering questions and I got to bask in the pride I feel knowing that the little girl who always made art out of materials grabbed from our recycling bin grew into an accomplished artist who creates pieces by repurposing common materials.

We left the artist and her brother behind to their own plans so that we really could go do lunch before riding back to our own town. At the Mainline Ale House we not only received excellent service and ate tasty food, but we all also received the anniversary special of two-for-one entrees. What a pleasant surprise to add to our already pleasant experience.

Neither rain nor parking woes nor traffic slowdowns stayed our swift courier from completing his appointed round—we had a ticket to ride and I’m so grateful that everyone cared enough to let my daughter to know that she, also, has a ticket to ride.

The only way that will bring us down is if she doesn’t take that ticket and ride with the gift of art she has worked so hard to nurture—she has a ticket to ride and may she ride it for all it is worth. Limousines, planes, trains, or automobiles—any form of transportation it takes, but she’s got a ticket to ride—and we all do care.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

“Puppy, puppy, puppy”—that’s what my husband Sherman used to say to me when I was waiting for my puppy to get old enough to come home to live with us. I had puppy fever bad. As an adult I had never had a puppy right from its early weeks away from its mama. Not too long after my own mama died in a pretty horrible way, so did my dog. I’d had it with old age and illness. I needed youth to renew me—or at least that’s how it felt.

Now that four years have passed since our puppy came to us, I still know that getting a puppy was what most helped me through the healing days. Yes, taking care of that puppy and raising him was hard and took a lot of energy, but loving him put my focus on growth and rebirth—and fun and joy.

Nothing like being around a puppy for helping you to see that the world is pretty exciting—even if you don’t quite agree with the puppy on what exactly is so exciting. Morning! Breakfast! People! Grass! Sticks!

So here we are with a puppy in our home again, but it isn’t really ours. We’re not up with it in the night or cleaning up most of the messes—unless we offer to be on puppy duty. Yes, our daughter just graduated from college but she’s been waiting over six years to get her own dog. This is no post-graduate whim for her.

To everyone who thinks it’s crazy to get a puppy when you’re looking for that first career job and hoping to move out on your own (again), I just have to say that the healing power of puppies can be worth a lot of the cost (time and money) involved. It’s a big transition to finish school and come home again, but now she has bigger motivation for moving on to what comes next.

The puppy has her keeping a daily schedule and requires her to plan ahead for how she’s going to complete her obligations. She is taking two computer skill-based classes at the community college to round out her abilities and has to figure out how to get that work done on deadline without the puppy eating up our house or doing unsafe things. She borrowed a pen so that we could all work on getting her moved back in—not an easy task when someone’s been living in an apartment for four years—and she could start on her class work. The puppy’s own pen should arrive any day, even if he hasn’t yet demonstrated any affection yet for not being the center of attention.

She is also training him to use a crate and taking him on frequent walks to prepare him for the likely day he becomes an apartment-dweller. She also sees how good it is to be able to work him through his often noisy protests to boundaries now while she doesn’t yet have neighbors that live just a wall away.

The puppy is in his own way training her to develop a routine while filling her heart during these early days when her former social structure has so recently ended. Nothing like the full-out run of the little tyke as he races to see her when she comes home from her evening class.

The first week with a puppy here again has been chaotic but rewarding. He is a quick little learner, especially thanks to our daughter’s commitment to creating consistent boundaries—despite how adorable he is and despite how exhausting every waking (and interrupted sleeping!) minute is. She is in this for the long term—and it shows.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

The puppy, puppy, puppy has come to stay at our house and I think he will likely turn out to be what inspires her to figure out just what comes next in her post-grad journey. She has dog food to buy—and someone who already knows she won’t let him down, even if he’s not going to like her spending less time with him.

For some of us, when life gets hard, we get a puppy—and somehow everything else seems easier.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert