A coronavirus birthday celebration

Treena Mielke

As much as February is splashed with beautiful hearts and flowers and cute little Cupids and has only 28 days (usually) the month is relentlessly long and cold.

February is also my birthday.

I am an Aquarius child, born Feb. 15 in a year which will remain undisclosed.

My brother used to tell me I was born in a February snowstorm and my sister told me I was cute when my eyes were open. When they were closed, I guess I was nothing to write home about. Out of my seven siblings only myself and my younger sister were born in a hospital.

I made my very first appearance into this world in the Eckville hospital and about 25 years later, I gave birth to my youngest daughter in that very same hospital.

Unfortunately, that hospital was on former premier Ralph Klein’s hit list back in the day and now its polished floors and coveted baby nursery where my daughter lay all snug and cozy in a tiny bassinet only exist in my mind’s eye.

This year my birthday fell smack dab in the middle of the coronavirus. It fell when I still have Christmas presents wrapped and waiting for my son and his family stacked on a shelf by the fireplace. I must say the red and green Christmas wrap looks a little out of place in amongst the Valentine and birthday cards that also grace my living room.

My birthday fell at a time when restaurants have barely opened their doors and to garner so much as a coffee, you have to practically leave your fingerprints with the waitress.

My birthday occurred when wearing masks is mandatory, lipstick optional.

I honestly have to say I have never had a birthday quite like this.

And so, as the list of coronavirus related negatives goes on, like a never-ending ill wind that blows nobody good, I still feel, bubbling up inside of me, happy thoughts to fill my day. Actually, there is a song about that, I think it’s called There’s a bluebird on my windowsill.

There are, of course, the negatives that creep up, unbidden. And the ‘whys. Why me? Why is this still happening? Why is it not over? Why are we still here in this Godforsaken land of ice and snow? Why are we not in Palm Springs where the sun shines so bright and hot and there is a swimming pool in our back yard, for crying out loud?

Why am I not rich? Why am I so old? Yesterday I was young. What happened to those years? Who took them away?

I must admit I thought every single one of those thoughts this morning.

But then I had to get out of bed to answer the phone.

It kept ringing and ringing. You know, all those birthday messages. I finally put the Queen and the Prime Minster on hold (kidding).

“Happy birthday, mom,” came through loud and clear from my three completely adult and mostly grown-up children. My youngest grandchild, who is a mostly grown up and adult six-year-old said, “Grandma, I was really busy doing Lego and I didn’t have time to make you a card that said very much but ‘love,’ but then I decided to upgrade it and so I wrote, “you are the best grandma I no.”

I told him I was humbly grateful for the upgraded card.

And as the day wore on, I have to say I felt humbly grateful for so much that the positive list that I keep in my head far surpassed the negative one.

And I was, surprisingly, happy.

For one thing, the temperature has gone up. It is only -25 C today. Who knew! Well, it is still pretty cold, darn it, but inside my house it is warm and cozy. For sure, Jacob’s ‘love’ card, even before it was upgraded was enough to make this ‘older’ person happy just because.

And even with the coronavirus still refusing to back down and retreat I am grateful the age-old emotions of love, excitement and pure, unadulterated joy remain as strong and steadfast as ever.

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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