May-hem birthdays by
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Prompted By Special Birthdays

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I almost decided not to write this story because I didn’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” about any birthdays, let alone special birthdays. Most of my birthdays have been unremarkable, and I’m not into huge celebrations, nor do I covet elaborate gifts. One of my favorites was when I turned 50, and Dick and I went on a cruise to Alaska as my gift. I had a really great time. When I turned 65, I was relieved to get Medicare, having been paying a stiff amount for COBRA health insurance for the year before.

Starting in 2020, birthdays have been correlated with horrible incidents for no apparent reason.

There were a few birthdays, however, that have been depressing or downright disturbing. When I turned 30, I was single, enjoying good health and a growing freelance business, but was estranged from my family (which I wrote about recently in “Gap-and-a-Half”). My mother contacted me several weeks after that birthday to say she’d forgotten it. No apology or belated birthday card, she’d just forgotten it.

When I turned 40, my marriage was spinning toward divorce, but my former husband invited a small group to a nice restaurant to help me celebrate. When it was time for dessert, the wait staff brought out beautiful slices of cake for everyone except me. I got some sort of pudding made with milk, which I dared not eat. Interesting that I remember that incident so distinctly.

Starting in 2020, birthdays have been correlated with horrible incidents for no apparent reason. My birthday is on May 26, which, other than the proximity to Memorial Day weekend, isn’t notable and shouldn’t be. In 2020, the day before my birthday, George Floyd was murdered, and that’s all we could think about.

On May 26 of last year, I woke up to the news that there had been a mass shooting at the VTA location about 15 minutes from my house. Shortly after, instead of birthday wishes, I got a text from a close friend saying that her son Tim’s best friend Mike was unaccounted for at the VTA (I had known Tim and Mike since they were in grade school). Throughout the day texts flew back and forth, until early in the evening, Tim confirmed that Mike had been killed. Worst birthday ever, but worst day of their lives for Mike’s wife, family, and friends.

This year, the day before my birthday, the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas occurred, and we could think of nothing else. I struggle to figure out why this “May-hem” is occurring at all, but particularly on or close to my birthday. What is it about the end of May? All I want for my birthday next year, when I turn 70, is for my friends and family to be in good health and for no one to be killed.

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Mare, at least you had the great trip to Alaska for your 50th. The others do sound disconcerting. My husband’s birthday is May 25th, so I know what you mean about all the awful things that have happened on or around that date. We are aware too. He also doesn’t like a fuss made of his birthday, so did nothing to celebrate this year for his 71st, but I didn’t let his 70th go by without note last year. Then, 5 weeks later, he had his horrible accident. Thank goodness, he recovered, but it took a long time.

    I hope the date does not bode ill for either of you going forward. Only happy wishes for you.

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    That is a strange set of coincidences.
    We invaded Normandy on my birthday (- 12 years) but that was mainly bad news for the Nazis. Sen. Robert Kennedy died on 6/6 as well. On the upside, it was also the date that the very first drive-in theater was opened.
    Coincidences are numerous, but are just coincidences.

    • Marian says:

      Probably we all can find events of note on our birthdays, Dave. As you say, mine have been coincidences, but the three recent ones in a row have been strange and disturbing. If there is a fourth next year, I’ll start to become superstitious.

  3. Mare, I’m with Dave, coincidences happen!

    May there be no may-hem all the Mays to come!
    (And happy belated May birthday!)

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Amen, Marian, your wish for your 70th is perfect. I can only imagine how painful that 30th birthday was for you. And the 40th not much better. Sorry. The 50th trip to Alaska was the perfect gift — an experience you will always cherish.

  5. Oh, dear, Marian. That’s truly distressing. But I have a suggestion. My first wife and I did celebrate our birthdays but we also celebrated our “unbirthdays” – the dates six months before and later. Perhaps your Thanksgivings might produce happier results.

  6. Suzy says:

    Sorry about those three-in-a-row tragedies right around your birthday, but they do say that bad news comes in threes, so maybe you are done with the bad luck birthdays. Glad you had that Alaska cruise at 50, especially since we are all pretty averse to cruises post-Covid.

    Here’s to a good 70th! Maybe we can celebrate together!

  7. Next year for your birthday, I promise to stay home and not get shot. I’m pretty sure I can bring that off successfully.
    It’s good that there;’s no pressure on Retro to put up a smiling visage or showcase your luxurious lifestyle! We, the readers, will take it straight, whatever it is, or even on the rocks.

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    I like Tom’s suggestion about the six-month celebration. Really why not do both? Sally has a birthday 2 days after Christmas, and has decided to celebrate the whole winter holiday time as extended birthday. Of course Dale celebrated his fortieth ALL YEAR. There is so much bad news out there, it probably lands near someone’s birthday regularly, so you have company. Celebrate whenever you can anymore. And happy birthday.

  9. Susan Bennet says:

    I’m sorry that your experiences with May have not always been merry, Marian, or worse, even tragic. However happy, birthdays by their nature can remind us of the passage of time (of course) and the passing of loved ones who used to be sitting ’round the table–in other words, they can be a mixed bag. May I say, a birthday celebration such as your Alaska cruise may shine so brilliantly in your memory that perhaps it can shed its light on birthdays before and after. By the way, my jaw dropped when you told about the pudding. What???

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