I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. But contrary to the impression possibly created by the picture above, it was not my fiftieth. As a matter of fact, it was my fifty-first. Or as I prefer to call it—my forty eleventh. Because 51, in my opinion, is a numeral without much to recommend it—a rather dull digit without the pleasing plumpness and resonant roundness of 50. Fifty-one is just…blah.
Anyway, I took the picture above (which shows my address number marker where I used to live) specifically to illustrate the post I was going to do last year about turning 50. But long time readers of my blog may remember that last year about this time, we were moving. Well, I say moving, but really, the problem was that we had nowhere to move TO though our house had already sold and the new owners needed to move in NOW. So, things were a tad stressful and there was no time for thoughtful reflection on turning 50, especially since at the time, I was feeling about twice that.
And, as if all that wasn’t enough, just in time for my 50th birthday, the transmission on my usually reliable Camry suddenly refused to go into reverse, making driving a little nerve-wracking since all my forward progress had to be made with great care and consideration, lacking as I was the option of backing up. And, yes, I did see the bitter irony in the fact that my car was beginning to fall apart around about the same time I was. And, no, it wasn’t funny. Not at the time, anyway. Come to think of it, it’s still not funny.
Which brings me to what Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man gave me last year for my fiftieth birthday. I’d always dreamed of how I might get something really extraordinary when I turned fifty. Maybe I’d take a special trip since I’ve rarely traveled farther than North Carolina. And indeed, I did receive a lavish gift that involved travel. And it cost almost two thousand bucks!
It was (drum roll please) a shiny, bright, sparkling…rebuilt transmission!
Yep, it was a beauty. And when the man in the transmission shop told us (after gleefully swiping our Visa) that our transmission was guaranteed so that no matter where we traveled in the USA we could get it fixed if it failed, I told him, “Don’t worry…after paying for this, we won’t have the money to travel.”
He was not amused.
Anyway, maybe you’re wondering what wondrous thing Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man got me for my birthday this year. Well, for a while there, it was looking like it would be another extravagant gift, perhaps even surpassing last year’s! Yes, for a while there, I thought Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man would be giving me a shiny, bright, sparkling…new furnace!
Yes indeed, soon after my birthday, during the coldest snap here in six years, our furnace suddenly stopped. And although we kept it going for a while by manually spinning the blower fan just as we switched it on, eventually, that little trick didn’t work (not to mention the fact that doing that was really tiresome). We had to figure out something more permanent. Which we feared might be a new furnace.
To make a long story short—after much prayer and supplication and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and the repeated taking apart and putting back together of fan motors over a span of ten very cold days, we finally heard the sweet sound of our furnace roaring to life. And we cheered and broke out the Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice that I had gotten for my birthday and toasted our furnace and each other and all the many good things in our life.
“Here’s to the loud roar of our old heat pump and to warmth and to a husband who can fix anything!” I said. “Well….except for transmissions.”
Tom smiled and held up his glass and said, “And here’s to another year with you—and to you making it to fifty-two!”
We laughed and clinked our Winnie the Pooh jelly glasses together, drank, then poured another glass.
I raised my glass. “And here’s to love.”
“Hear, hear,” said Tom. We clinked glasses again and sat back, sipping our juice and basking in the delicious warmth pouring through the vent, thanking God and all our lucky stars for our blessedness.
So here’s to warm hands and warm hearts, to cold sparkling grape juice, to cars that go backward and forward, to bland and humdrum 51…and to love, no matter what your age.