About the time I was likely getting into my deep sleep last night, Gail and her friends were carousing about in the countryside, not yet even considering hitting the sack. They were celebrating, after all, and when Gail is celebrating, time doesn’t matter.
Time, with its seemingly fickle nature, can play tricks on all of us. If we are in the dentist’s chair, it drags on interminably. If we are vacationing, say, lying on the beach, or carousing in our favorite mountain town, it seems to fly. It passes all the same, however, no matter what we are doing to pass it.
One year ago tonight–2/21/20, we were celebrating Gail’s 60th birthday. Here’s a refresher:
Today, 2/21/21, Gail is celebrating her 61st birthday. While this number may seem an unimportant age to some who have already reached it, it’s another significant milestone to Gail. No birthday is meaningless to Gail; as she has said before, and I quote: “It keeps getting better,” and “Birthdays are a gift you unwrap.”
Gail is 61 today, born on the 21st and celebrating in 2021. Such perfectly aligned numbers; perhaps we should use them when we throw our money down once again in the casinos in our favorite mountain town in a few weeks. Surely this time we will be lucky. More on that later.
One year ago tonight, we gathered in her small town to help her celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. It was a grand Gail gala, and we were so fortunate that she was indeed born on 2/21, because shortly thereafter, the entire world shut down; celebrations of this magnitude were forbidden.
It has been almost a year since COVID began to dictate our social interactions. I need not explain any further. In many ways, it has felt like a year in the dentist’s chair, but Gail continues to make every day of her life–pre-Covid included–a celebration. Her festive nature and ever-present sense of optimism are always palpable.
To me, this is simply Gail. It is how I have always known her. To anyone who is a new acquaintance, her deep reserves of positive energy are astounding. To me, she is my larger-than-life big sister. I have never known her to be anything but.
Her home is a chapel to this vibe. I remember when she moved from the small town close to where we grew up to her new home in another small Kansas town. I felt a sense of grief for those sacred walls she left behind; so many wonderful memories were made there, with many more sure to be foregone since she was moving. I was sure it would never be the same, and it wasn’t.
But it was still good, it was still Gail. She took her collection of whales along. She modified the rock-n-roll room–complete with rocking chairs–she had into a music room with her 600-plus CD collection.
She took her 80’s wicker furniture along, keeping it until it was time to let it go. She had walls of Hallmark plaques in her former home. Some made the cut, some didn’t. Most of them have since been retired. There sometimes comes a time to let go, to listen to one’s little voice about changing tastes, and she has always listened.
Gail and her two older daughters had many memorable evenings in their first home. If you look close, you can see the wicker under the 80’s throw blanket behind her. Her daughters rocked and rolled right along with her, and still do.
I remember walking into her new home, and I knew instantly that nothing was lost. This is still Gail’s spirit in her new home. And I felt no more sadness about what she left behind. It was time for new, with the pieces of her past arranged in their new places.
While some of her favorite collections can be explained and understood, as in Rosie the Riveter–Gail Can Do It, others, like her penchant for yellow clocks, cannot. It simply is what she loves, and because of that, it’s beautiful. They are beautiful, all those yellow clocks. She likes what she likes with no apology.
While I am missing my big sister on her birthday, I know that her friends capably helped her celebrate last night–or shall I say this morning. The lantern was a gift from one of those fellow carousers, complementing the light that radiates from within her, no matter where she is, what day/time it is, who she is with, what is happening in the world around her, or what the weather is.
The weather around Gail is always sunny and warm.
In eleven days, Gail and I will arrive back in our favorite mountain town to once again, March Forth. We will have a belated birthday celebration, and we will celebrate our parents lives on the 13th anniversary of their deaths. It will indeed be a celebration. Suzanne still fights the altitude sickness, and because she is a newlywed, she is happy to stay back. We will gather together another time.
Remember, when you are with Gail, life is always a celebration. She even made jokes at our parents double funeral. She cried with all of us, but she made us laugh, too. As the new matriarch of the family, she flexed her We Can Do It Rosie muscles to show us all how to do it. She carried a lantern of her inner light, guiding the way for all of us to continue to smile and laugh, and to make a celebration out of life, no matter what it hands us.
She continues to be larger-than-life, and to this little sister, growing larger with each passing year. I am a lucky middle sister.
Judging from our past performance in the casinos, however, we could use a little more luck with our numbers. Please send us your good vibes for good luck with #61 and #21.
HAPPY 61ST BIRTHDAY GAIL!