Chuck threw me a huge birthday party for my 50th.  To be honest, our daughter, Rachael-Grace, helped out with it quite a bit, but it was lovely.  A dear friend, who died the year before Chuck, baked a red velvet cake.  My friends were there from all walks of life.  Our kids were there; it was a memorable 50th.

Life changes quickly, and the following year, for my 51, we were just beginning our new life on the road and Chuck surprised me with a trip to Graceland.  I’d always been a huge Elvis fan and he knew this would be a huge hit. As it was.  I didn’t have any idea where we were headed until I saw the sign that said Memphis.  We stayed in a hotel that had framed Elvis pictures in each room, a guitar shaped swimming pool and Elvis music playing throughout the grounds. All songs which I knew and Chuck got such a kick out of me singing along with them.

One of my earliest birthday memories, after Chuck and I married, is the year he took the time leading up to my birthday to get my address book and ask everyone in it to call me on my birthday.  He also alerted his family and friends.  I spent the day answering our, yes, land line phone, and hearing Happy Birthday, Alison!  Chuck made my birthdays so special, every year.

My next few birthdays were spent on the road; I don’t even remember where. What I do recall is that I spent them with him, hiking and exploring the USA.  We had all the time in the world together and that was the greatest gift of all.  With lots of wild and crazy birthday sex.

The last great present I received for my birthday, my 55th, was the news that Chuck’s first cancer had been eradicated numerous surgeries.  He was cancer free, with really really really good odds that it wouldn’t return.  God, did we celebrate…I knew a cancer survivor! and that cancer survivor was my beloved husband.

I’m 59 today.  Chuck has been dead for 4 years.  Fucking cancer got my cancer survivor after all, and my birthdays have never been the same.

I know, I know…I can hear it now.  But you must celebrate you! You must grab life and savor it and live it!

Here’s the thing.  I know, because I’m a smart, loving person, that I must allow our kids to celebrate me. I must allow my friends and family and all who love me, to celebrate me. And I do and it means so much, especially since Chuck is no longer here to wrap me in his arms and plant a huge, lonnnngggg kiss on my lips, leaving me dizzy.

In just the past month, I’ve received 2 gifts that touch my heart in the only ways that matter:  I was reunited with my younger sister, after many years of estrangement, and my wee grandson, Owen Charles, was born.  Each of these huge events touch my heart.

But there is a loneliness that goes along with my birthdays in the years since Chuck’s death and that’s just a fact of life.  It’s the new world that I live in.

So, today, here in the Ozarks, at the opera camp, on my 59th birthday, living a life I’d never imagined or planned for (emotionally), my gift to myself is telling each person that I meet that it is my birthday and I want hugs.

I want hugs from every person who comes within my radius today. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.  All the love that comes with those hugs is what keeps me going, and my heart expands with each hug.

And that’s what I ask of you, too.  Anyone who is reading my words today.  For my birthday, your gift to me is to hug people you meet along your way today.  Stop for a minute, share some time with them, connect with them, and don’t leave them without hugging them.

And maybe, whisper a word to Chuck, whether you know him or not, that you’re all looking out for his girl.

Thank you.

Happy birthday, me~



An Elvis birthday, and Memphis moment…

I spent all of today being what I call a touron–a tourist in Elvis land!  Handsome Husband brought me to Memphis, Tennessee as a birthday gift, and we have spent these two days living large. We came in from Kentucky yesterday, and are staying in a very nice Days Inn, right across the street from Graceland. It was surprising to me-Graceland is right in the middle of a strip of kind of run down looking fast food joints and stores. Its set way back up from the road, it has those beautiful musical note gates at the entrance, a sloping yard, and is old Southern style architecture.


We did all the posing tourons do, I bought a couple of shirts with guitars or Elvis on them (pink of course!), and enjoyed myself thoroughly! Elvis radio plays around the clock, including at our hotel, and the pool is in the shape of a guitar. I’m eating all of this up of course. I saw Elvis in Philly at the old Spectrum on his last tour before his death in ’77 (boy, that dates me!)

the pool outside our room

More importantly, and this merits a new paragraph–Elvis was in Ft Hood, TX, new to the Army, when I was born there in 1958. Yes, folks, I myself am practically a celebrity because of that, and aren’t you all just so impressed? My dad, who was stationed there at Ft Hood, remembers knowing whenever Elvis was around because  all you had to do was follow the sound of all the girls screaming and shrieking! He told me yesterday though, that he remembers  Elvis was well respected there because he didn’t ask for special favors.
So, a great birthday–my husband is a bag of chips and all that! Tomorrow we’re going to head west and then south, turning our Saturn in the direction of Texas. Don’t know how long it will take to get there-we’re taking our time and seeing the country. This is tremendously exciting, seeing the country like this-and who better to do that with than the man I love!
So, all you folks, try not to be too envious that I have walked where Elvis walked! I can only share the pictures and give you an idea of what it was like-did you hear me fainting? I saw the uniform he wore in the Army, both his fatigues and the one where he wore a brown jacket called an Eisenhower jacket, and that hunka hunka burning man had a VERY nice set of shoulders! Sigh, be still, my heart! Our hotel room has pictures of Elvis all over, and I apologized ahead of time to Handsome Husband if I was distracted and didn’t pay him the usual amount of attention, but I was sure he would understand. As we were out and about through the day, I was singing along to all of the Elvis songs–and he has just been accepting of the whole thing. l did try to talk him into buying an Elvis jumpsuit, but cost notwithstanding, he passed on the invite, and also said no to the belt buckle and ballcap. Ah, well, I suppose it is up to me to carry on the Elvis love, and I will do that with my two new shirts….
I’ll catch up with, as I suppose I’m now supposed to say, y’all in the next day or so. I love comments on the pictures-it makes me feel closer to all of you, or, once again, y’all!