living her best life…#21: the big 50

It’s been a decade and a half since I was there…the Big 50. 

Can’t even remember that it was more special than any other birthday. Other than going out for a nice dinner, birthdays have just been another day for which I’m glad to be alive.

Now if I’d been surrounded by special friends with whom I’d shared a history for decades, I might have done as Pat did. She celebrated the Big 50 …a few times. Not that she stopped aging at that point, like some choose to do when they’re 29.

Better than that. Pat rung in the Big 50…with girlfriends she’s known since the 4th and 6th grades. A truly amazing accomplishment!

 

Carla got the party started in March. Her husband and kids had a beautiful, intimate birthday party, with family and a few girlfriends. Sadly, her mom was in the hospital. Conflicted about that, her family assured her it was okay and they needed to celebrate. The party was at Miyako…a Japanese restaurant at the New Otani Hotel in Waikiki. At the Diamond Head end near the Natatorium, it was away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the strip. Wine flowed while the sun was setting. Picture postcard perfect. We had personalized menus from which to choose our entrees. The food, service, atmosphere and company were incredible. We even got grown-up “goody bags”…as though we were still kids…filled with a few of Carla’s favorite things, including cookies and wine.

As the night was winding down, Lei was already thinking…”Hmmm…I’m next…what can my husband do for my 50th???”

I looked at Jeri…pretty sure she and I were thinking the same thing…and asked “Were you planning a party for yourself?” Her reply “No. You?” “No.” We agreed Carla’s husband, Steve, had set the standard…and set it high. Damn him!

So Lei was next…in May. It was the four of us…Lei, Carla, Jeri and me…and Lei’s husband and son. We had a very nice dinner at Stage Restaurant in the Honolulu Design Center…part of the INspiration furniture store. The decor is funky, eclectic and just cool. Kinda like Lei. Each table was different. The chairs were different as were the lighting fixtures over each table. It was as though we were dining at tables staged for selling. (OK. As I was writing that I realized it was probably the idea for the restaurant…a little slow on the uptake here.) It also just struck me that while the restaurant was uber-modern…I ordered meatloaf! Seems “oxymoronic!” (Is that even a word?) Like Carla, Lei had gifts for us, including small cacti in porcelain bowls and blinged-out “Happy Pills” pill containers. What Lei said that night changed my attitude about turning 50. Not only was she celebrating her 50th, but she was also celebrating the fact that she made it to 50. You see, Lei is a cancer survivor. (She had worn a wig when she was one of my bridesmaids more than 20 years ago.)

The pressure was on. Jeri’s birthday was coming up in August and we had to celebrate it! Her birthday dinner was comfortable and casual, just like her. She invited just the three of us…no husband, no kids…to dinner at Assagio Bistro in Kahala. It serves really good Italian food in a nice setting, where you can choose to dress up or not. Pasta…bread…seafood…bread…wine…and more bread. Can you tell? I really liked the bread! I’m sure we had dessert. We always do. I just can’t remember what it was. Like Carla and Lei, Jeri gave each of us a gift…Godiva chocolates! One of her favorite things.

September rolled around and now it was my turn. I wanted to go somewhere nice, but not too fancy. I didn’t want to hassle with traffic or parking. So I invited my girlfriends to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bistro, in Niu Valley. Again, it was just the four of us. I had half-heartedly invited Brad and Ethan realizing they wouldn’t want to join the girls. (Do you remember this place? That’s where we had dinner the last time you and your family were visiting. Remember how it was elegant, yet casual…with the waiters wearing jeans and white shirts?) I don’t remember what I ate other than induging in the foie gras…as I had when we dined there. I do know whatever I ate was delicious…it always is. The waiters served us complimentary birthday creme brulee and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. My gifts to my friends was a box of chocolate dipped strawberries and apples. Yummmmm…

In early December, I thought it was too bad Lesly wasn’t here to celebrate her birthday. She lives in Sacramento. Then I decided that we could celebrate for her. So we did! It was pretty last minute so it was just three of us…Jeri, Lei and me. Carla wasn’t able to join us. We told Lesly what we were doing and that we would call her. Since she was going to be at a function with her husband that night, we text her and sent pics instead. We raised our wine glasses, toasting Lesly’s 50th at Roy’s in Hawaii Kai. I remember I had fish (sea bass?) As much as I wanted to savor every morsel I had difficulty eating it because of my swollen tongue. Ethan got most of it in a “doggy bag.” I did manage dessert, however! We ordered not one, but two, melting, dark chocolate souffles with vanilla ice cream. One would not have sufficed for the three of us. Our waitress was great. She had the pastry chef write “Happy Birthday, Lesly” in chocolate on the plate. There was even a party hat on the table. Can’t remember who brought it along. (Was it there? Or did Jeri bring it?) Anyway, we took pictures of everything and texted our best wishes to Lesly all the way in Sacramento.

…good friends are like family…pat, carla, jeri, lei, lesly…

This piece is kinda long and personal…meaning no one else will really care…so I don’t know if you’ll blog about it. I wrote it because I don’t want to forget what happened. I’m sending it to you since you are the “keeper of my musings.” I also sent it to my girlfriends because it’s about them. I’ve known them all since either the 4th or 6th grade. These are the friends I include in updates I send to the family…because that’s what they are to me.

…ohana…the aloha spirit in action.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

what are friends for?

I had a couple of nice outings with two girlfriends recently.

Both are open and forthcoming with their lives…the ups…the downs. They’re also quick to offer words of support when necessary, just as I am when they’re in need.

Women connect on the ground-floor level. Together we take the elevator to the penthouse. Along the way…we get off and on…as life directs. A metaphor to be sure, but good girlfriends travel the floors in life’s elevator together…physically…and spiritually.

Molbaks' Orchids

Molbaks’ Orchids (Photo credit: JHall159)

Suzy and I enjoyed an outing to Molbak’s to take advantage of its outdoor sale…buy 1, get one free. Perrenials, annuals, vines, groundcovers, grasses, shrubs, trees…all outdoor plantings were included. In the decade and a-half that I’ve been frequenting this, my favorite nursery, I’d never seen such a sale. And Suzy hadn’t been to Molbak’s in 30 years, so she was thrilled when I invited her to accompany me.

To and from the nursery the conversation was lively. Suzy and I learned we had much in common. My father died when I was one; hers died when she was four. My mom was manipulative in many ways; so is hers. The comparisons continued. We empathized. We laughed.

Once we arrived at our destination we delighted in the sights that surrounded us, and the delicious lunch served in the cafe. After wandering around the indoor gift shop, we wend our way through the plants, selecting several for purchase.  All in all…a pleasurable outing for both of us.

My friend Mary and I stopped for coffee after exercise class yesterday. She needed a little cheering up, so I gladly obliged. She’s done as much for me.

It’s good to have someone with whom to commiserate. Moms have issues not easily understood by husbands and offspring. Try as we might, we can never seem to get our dilemma across to our loved ones. Easier to turn to other moms, not so much for a solution, as for an immediate “I know just what you mean.” That alone opens the floodgates to fluid conversation.

When all is said and done, life continues on…the load…a little lighter. All a woman needs is a sympathetic ear and a few words of support. No judgments. No put-downs. No unsolicited advice.

Mutual admiration, respect, concern, like, and love…loosely tied ribbons that keep friends close.

English: friends like you

English: friends like you (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…i’m blest with a few…good ones…

………hugmamma.

 

coincidence…or extra sensory perception?

Among the birthday greetings I recently received were a couple from 2 long-time best friends, Katy with whom I worked almost a decade ago at the Performing Arts Conservatory High School my daughter attended, and Becky with whom I had coffee (she had tea), when I lived with my daughter for 2 1/2 years in Atlanta while she trained towards a career in ballet.

Three ballet dancers performing a grand jeté jump

Image via Wikipedia

Moms whose children venture down career paths less traveled usually become comrades in arms. Only they know what challenges their offspring face, and what accolades possibly await them. The dance world, especially as it pertains to ballet, is like a world apart. If it weren’t for our daughter being a professional ballerina, my husband and I would be aliens to that art form. It would be as foreign to us as the French that is the basis of all ballet positions. In fact we often tell others that dancers, choreographers, company artistic directors and staff, experience two worlds, ours and theirs. And unless you know someone in their world, gaining entree into theirs is improbable…if not impossible.

So while Katy, Becky and I may not be in touch with regularity since we all live in different states, busy still with families, we are still linked through the common experiences of our children, past and present. And we continue to support one another… as moms who continue to support our children in their uncommon lives.

What prompted this post was the uncanny coincidence of receiving the same birthday card from both…Katy and Becky. And they’ve never met…living on opposite coasts of the U.S. So since I’m the common denominator in our trio…do I look exactly the same to my two friends? And what exactly are they trying to tell me?

Am I the cat’s meow?…queen of the felines?…queen mamma?…or maybe…just one of the girls who like to think…

i’m “queen for the day!”………hugmamma.

🙂  Both Becky and Katy have been readers of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul since its days as a “seedling.” They’ve encouraged me to write my stories, both being fine writers themselves. When my prolific posts have slowed to a trickle, or ceased altogether, my friends have let me know my stories are missed. In her birthday card to me Katy wrote:

I love your blog and read it every day; so many times your opinions echo my own. Keep writing!!
          Love…Katy

Both cards were inscribed:

Everyday you sparkle,
but today you rule!
Happy Birthday

friends…moms…forever entwined………hugmamma.

 

 

unconditional love and support

Just learned that someone I’d known a number of years ago has Alzheimer’s. She’s the sister of a dear friend with whom I’ve reconnected through my blog. What’s impressive about this case is that the afflicted person was born with Down’s Syndrome. Now middle-aged, she is suffering a new health challenge,  perhaps more devastating than the one with which she was born. Is it true that God levels upon us only what he thinks we can handle? It may be.

The woman in question lived her life as though she weren’t handicapped.  Living in a home with others having special needs, she shared in  household chores, perhaps with some assistance. I’m not certain. She worked at a local market. She socialized. She even had a special male friend. I was always amazed at how normal her life seemed.

Then, just as now, a support system was in place to make this woman’s life as effortless as possible, emphasis on “as possible.” My girlfriend and her mom are to be lauded for their tireless efforts in helping their sister and daughter to live an independent life. They did not encourage a vegetative life, and knowing the woman she’d not have settled for that anyway. Their mom has since passed away, leaving her daughter in the care of my girlfriend and another sister.

Even with Alzheimer’s the woman is living in her community of handicapped friends. But her sisters bring her to their home on weekends. They make sure to keep her active, for outside stimuli is known to help in fighting the disease. That along with medication delays the onset.

My girlfriend is a special woman, having always placed others’ needs before hers. I am forever grateful that she created the first playgroup in our rural town. I’m certain it helped the moms as much as the toddlers. Building a network of friends probably saved the women from postpartum depression, and served as the cornerstone of socialization for our children.

Working for the good of children was always first and foremost on my friend’s agenda. A school teacher, she assumed the director’s position at a preschool once held by her mom, who succumbed to ovarian cancer. Having advanced to a better situation elsewhere, my girlfriend continues to share her special talent for making childrens’ lives better.

I always admired my friend’s parenting style, not that I ever dreamt of adopting it as my own. My strengths were different from hers. She was less controlling, more open to suggestions from her daughter and others. I knew I could only succeed if I trusted my own instincts, and did what I thought best. Vaccilation would undermine my confidence, thereby leaving my daughter without the guidelines I felt she needed.

Traveling very different paths, my friend’s daughter is training to be a big animal veterinarian, while my daughter is a professional dancer. So although their upbringing was as dissimilar as could be, they are both upstanding adults.

Unconditional love and support are potent allies for the handicapped, the diseased, new moms, young toddlers, growing daughters, and best friends. My girlfriend and I have remained supportive of each other throughout the years. I celebrate her successes; she congratulates me on mine. We’ve never shared a cross word, never passed judgment and always spoke well of each other’s children. We have been as close as sisters, whether in touch or not. But there was never pressure to correspond with, speak to or see one another. She and I were content knowing we cared, and would always care. My only concern was not knowing if she were still healthy and happy. If she ever passed, I would want to be told. I would want to pause to remember her for the extraordinary person she has always been.

now’s as good a time as any, to thank her…hugmamma