Category Archives: Birthdays

Alphabet Soup Challenge:”J” is for Jerilyn

August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.

She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.

Jerilyn ready to pitch in at a food bank during a mission trip, 2007 ish

I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.

I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.

Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.

Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.

She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.

One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.

The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.

Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.

Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.

I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.

I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.

There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.

Snow Days, Guilt, and my Birthday

For context, I penned this post on Monday morning.

To my surprise, today is a snow day. Meaning that instead of organizing my little food bank, answering phone calls and emails, and serving my senior clients, I am at home.

I don’t know what to make of this. I’m uncomfortable. I feel guilty, like someone who called in sick to work who wasn’t actually sick but really just wanted a day off to, I don’t know, binge-watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or bake a cheesecake, or shop online for things they don’t need.

True confession: I have never called in sick when I wasn’t actually, truly, sick. Because guilt has been instilled in my soul since childhood. Because I know that if I did call in sick to work when I was in perfect health, that yucky, uneasy, unpleasant feeling of guilt would creep in and render me physically ill for real.

And I am a bonafide terrible liar. Here’s a recent example: I was at a work orientation with 4 new employees and 4 others (management/human resources/training folk). It was time for an ice breaker: “Two Truths and a Lie”. Of course, my neurotic brain is doing somersaults whilst the others are sharing their responses, so fortheloveofgod don’t ask me what any of them said. When it came to be my turn, I spouted out three things: I am a grandmother. I worked as a social worker for several years in Wisconsin. I was born and raised in Minnesota. Ha! The relief I felt after the words were spewn out of my mouth was glorious!

Then came the responses from my new colleagues: Well, you can’t possibly be a grandmother! I can tell from your accent that you are probably from Minnesota. Or maybe Wisconsin? You probably were a social worker.

Then it dawned on me: Every single thing I said was the actual freaking truth. Not one single lie. Uh-oh! Guess I didn’t understand the instructions? Nope, that wasn’t the case. I then had to admit two things to these people: 1) That I was so nervous trying to quickly come up with my responses that I forgot one was supposed to be a lie and 2) I apparently cannot tell a lie.

Hubs has been known to tell me that my work ethic is, essentially, unreasonable. He figured this out years ago, when I was pregnant with our first bundle of joy and the only spouse working full time (he was still a college student), and I insisted that despite the blizzard outside I. Was. Going. To. Work. Hubs reluctantly obliged and drove me in, but nearly got in an accident on the way due to the nasty road conditions.

It’s not like I didn’t try going to work today. The tires on our Honda CRV are not in good shape. They didn’t perform well on the snow packed roadways when Hubs was just trying to get me a few blocks away to meet my Uber driver (let’s just say there’s a very good chance that I will opt for Uber X going forward as opposed to Uber Pool), who didn’t show up (though understandable, given the road conditions).

I may go into work later, depending on if/when the snow stops and if/when the roads improve.

So in the meantime, what to do? Obviously, I’ve chosen to write. Perhaps if I get lost in this, my favorite all time activity, the guilt will subside and then I’ll have a fresh new post to publish come Wednesday morning.

At least then I can feel like I accomplished something today. That I used my time wisely.

In other news, things are really quite swell in my life at this moment. I’m doing my best to savor it. Hubs is no longer furloughed (he’s upstairs working in our home office as I type this on the new Chromebook he got me for my birthday-more on that later), thanks to Speaker Pelosi.

Spawn #1’s life is going better for her these days. She’s joined a church, is making new friends, and her first husband is currently MIA. Little guy is doing well in Pre-K and soon I will have the pleasure of reading “Wonky Donky” to him via video-chat (bought it online, shipped it to him and then copied the story down for myself in a notebook).

Spawn #2 is busying themselves in Indianapolis creating wearable art to sell online. And enjoying the single life amongst other creatives in the big city.

Later this week I will turn 52. I plan on celebrating with Hubs by going out to dinner, eating birthday cake guilt free (guilt is not invited to my party), drinking tasty adult beverages, and playing trivia (which I have been wanting to do since like forever) at a favorite local brew pub.

Over the weekend, Hubs and I will be flying out to Kansas City to visit our friends (AKA, Couple #1) and their kiddos. We got a sweet deal on airfare and figured we would massively enjoy the Super Bowl festivities with them. And word is, we’ll be attending a Roller Derby event (game, match, duel? not sure which noun to go with here), so I’m likely to acquire some blogging fodder while there.

Let me leave you with this, which for years now I believed was the #1 song on the day I was born (turns out the #1 song on that cold day in 1967 was the Monkee’s “I’m a Believer”) because well…I’m happy (with a little guilt mixed in for good measure of course)! This version is done by one of my favorite current bands, Weezer- who, I just so happened to recently learn, came out with a new album of covers-and ohmygoshimsoexcited-I just checked YouTube and found out this was one of them!

Happy Birthday to me!

On Birthdays

For whatever reason, I’ve got a mind that remembers numbers, which is exemplified by my ability to recall almost everyone I’ve ever known’s birthdays each year. The only one that always tripped me up was my two best girlfriends from college. Both have (had-one sadly has passed away) birthdays in September, just three days apart. I often got them mixed up. I always remember that May 1st is my nephew’s birthday as well as my best friend from childhood’s birthday. I always remember my sister’s birthday coincides with the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald (the shipwreck that occurred on Lake Superior on my sister’s sweet 16). I always remember my former housemate and college friend’s birthday, which is on 12/22. And I always remember my high school boyfriend’s birthday is on 12/31. Unlike many people, I don’t need to rely on Facebook to remind me of upcoming birthdays. I guess it’s kind of a weird talent.

I will be turning 51 later this month. I’ve been hemming and hawing about how to mark the occasion. Growing up, my dad’s approach to his birthday every year was a shrug and him saying “Ah, it’s just another day”. Hubs has a similar approach. Neither want to be fussed over. They are humble men.

While I believe it’s admirable to be humble, I feel a weird sense of possibly displaced disappointment when people I care about don’t wish to garner attention on the anniversary of their births. Because I want to lavish them with attention and I want others to lavish attention on them, because dammit, they deserve it!  Your birthday only comes around once a year, right? I think no matter who you are, it’s worth celebrating making it through another year on this planet.

I’ve always had conflicting feelings as my birthday approaches each year. Without a doubt, I always want to celebrate the occasion, as I am a “good time Charlie” who is always up for a party.  Yet, calling attention to myself by reminding others of my impending birthday feels kind of yucky to me (hence the reason I’m not divulging the actual date of my birthday here).  I worry that people will think I am self-absorbed, attention-seeking, and conceited. That maybe they won’t give a rat’s ass but will feel nonetheless obligated to send me a card or wish me a Happy Birthday because I made sure that they were aware it was coming up.

I am not going to throw myself a birthday party. That would be obnoxious. On the other hand, I would also never in a million years discourage a loved one from throwing me a party on my birthday.

I appreciated the strategy some of my former social work colleagues employed on their birthdays: they baked treats and put them in the break room, making sure to send an email to invite everyone in the office to come and enjoy a treat to celebrate their birthdays. I’ve only been in my job for two months now, meaning I’m still under that 90 day ‘probationary period’ so perhaps I should tread carefully and focus on doing the best job I can instead of calling attention to myself just because it’s my birthday and I just so happen to be at work that day. Plus, my boss recently had her 31st birthday (yes, it feels weird that my boss is actually young enough to be my kid), and no fuss whatsoever was made by her or our co-workers that day because she’s humble like my Dad and Hubs. Yes, I work for a humble millennial. They do exist, people!

However, I very much enjoy baking and I am striving to be as kind as humanly possibly every day (see my last post about my new fangled Kindness Jar ), so maybe I should bake something and bring it in to work. It’s not like I’m going to waltz into the office that morning wearing a tiara and a “birthday girl” sash, right?

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