Birthday Girl by
50
(94 Stories)

Prompted By Special Birthdays

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Stacy

Birthdays are a hard topic for me.

One of the birthdays I remember best was not one of mine.

I’ve always been a pessimist. And I do mean always. It started when I was a kid. Whenever things were calm, not miserable, not frightening, I could still never fully relax because I knew that it was only a matter of time before the screaming and cursing started again. And not a particularly long time, either. As this prediction kept coming true, it became habitual to fear change, because change was usually for the worse.

I was, all unknowing, becoming Woody Allen.

When it seems safest to live in whatever moderately tolerable now you are now in, milestones are depressing. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduation. Holidays. THE Holidays. To us Woody types, all serve as reminders that time is inexorably passing, and the universe has an infinite number of other shoes to drop. Probably from a great height.

This could well be why I remember so few of my own. One ended in me having second degree burns. My 20th was a surprise party in college, organized by Maria. My 21st I spent alone, waiting for Maria to come by and tell me that she still loved me. She didn’t. Mostly the ones in the late 70s and the 80s are lost, as is much of that time.

The ones I have spent with Gina have blended together, as they have been calm and pleasant, which was and is lovely, but makes for poor story telling.

One of the birthdays I remember best was not one of mine. It was a celebration that we held for our friend Stacy, who died in October of 2020.

Stacy was a musician, a good guitar player and a very good singer of any genre. She had also done standup, so she had stage presence. A performance class she was taking was having a graduation show, at a well-known blues club in Chicago. Stacy, of course, would sing. Coincidentally, it was on or very close to her birthday, so we called it her party that year.

This was years before she began experiencing the series of ever more serious neurological disorders that would eventually lead to her death.

I don’t remember what song she sang. Some belty, brassy blues classic. As a surprise to me, she inserted my name into the song at one of the loudest, most prominent points.

At that moment I realized that, unless you couldn’t stand bold, outspoken, opinionated feminist women in general, to know Stacy was to love her.

And I always will.

Postscript: Stacy even wrote her own obituary:
https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/chicagotribune/name/stacy-oliver-obituary?id=2839006

We had it published in the Chicago papers. From there it went slightly viral:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8848145/Chicago-woman-wrote-obituary-goes-viral-sharing-sage-advice.html

 

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.


Tags: birthday, friend, milestone, time, obituary
Characterizations: moving

Comments

  1. Marian says:

    Thanks for this tribute to Stacy, Dave. She was amazing. I also am not a big celebrator of birthdays but do enjoy partying with other people at theirs.

    • Dave Ventre says:

      No tale that I can tell fully encompasses the elemental whirlwind of love, creativity, intelligence, energy, courage and enthusiasm that was our Stacy. She rose up from very bad childhood circumstances to become…Stacy. When she knew she was dying, she wrote her own obutuary, which I will link to if I can find it. I hope that I was able to express just a bit of that in my story and photo. We miss her every day. Her memory is a blessing, though.

  2. Dave, we’ve read about your special friend Stacy before, thanx for sharing her with us again.

    Sadly, we’re at the age now where we’re loosing friends, still so hard to accept, isn’t it.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    What an amazing obituary, Dave. Thanks for sharing the link. Stacy was clearly a remarkable woman. May her memory be for a blessing.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    From the natural Woody inside you, thank you for sharing Stacy with us, Dave. She sounds like an amazingly vital human being. I’m sure you miss her, but at least you could love and appreciate her while she here on earth.

  5. Suzy says:

    Sorry that so many of your birthdays were not good. I’m glad that the ones with Gina have been calm and pleasant, even if not good story material. And as others have said, thanks for sharing Stacy with us.

    • Dave Ventre says:

      Thanks, Suzy. I am sure that far more have been good than bad, but it’s usually the bad stuff that we can’t seem to forget years later. The 20th with the surprise party was lovely. I also remember my parents buying me a super-cool banana-seated Spyder bike for one birthday (probably my twelfth)!

  6. A unique response to the prompt, for sure. I clicked on both links and read them and am enriched for it. Thanks for a very meaningful story.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    I’ll have to check out the links on a real computer—not working on my phone. Stacy does sound remarkable, and the birthday celebration fitting—you were indeed fortunate to have her part of your life, where she lives still in memory. Your description of the existential angst of milestones resonated—and the Woody Allen-like quip at the end about the shoe was hilarious. You manage to turn the travails of life into insightful and eloquent reflections.

  8. Susan Bennet says:

    Your stories are unblinking and sensitive, Dave. I always enjoy reading them. In your ending paragraphs you moved the subject from yourself to your Stacy. That tells a lot.

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