Happy Un-birthday ... For Now and Later!
©  Betty Sue Eaton
Dorothy was my neighbor, a new neighbor, and we really hit it off the very first time we met.
She was a lady!  She was a friend, confidante, wife, mother, her daughters' best friend, and
she was a cancer victim.  Although she was my neighbor only a short time before the cancer
won, we became like sisters.

There were so many traits that endeared Dorothy to me, not the least was her sense of
humor that persisted until the end. One such example was her "Unbirthday Party". One of her
daughters, Beverly, called me one morning and asked me not to come over that day as I had
every day in the last stages of Dorothy's cancer. She said the girls and their Mom were going
to have a special day.  I, of course, honored that request and stayed away all the while
wondering what was going on and thinking the worst.

Later in the afternoon, Beverly came to my house to relate the activities of the day at Mom's.
She told an amazing story that more than reflected Dorothy's heart, sense of humor and
concern for her family after she was gone. She had been planning the day for a while, but
she knew that this day would be the last time she would be able to physically do it and
emotionally bear it.

She had gathered up all her clothing and jewelry and sorted them into neat piles on her bed.
Jack had been a career-long employee of a well-known international airline and they had
spent a lot of time overseas, especially in Japan, which they enjoyed most of the places they
had been. They had incorporated many of the Japanese traditions into their own lives and
routines, especially the tea service. They had acquired many fine silk garments and fabrics,
art objects and jewelry in their stay there.

On this day, the girls had been invited to try on and take the clothing leaving only warm-ups
and jogging clothing; which was all that Dorothy could wear by that time. Even though only
three of the four of them could be there, they made a separate stack of things for the absent
Dianne.  Beverly, Susie and Barbara were under an edict: No tears, only laughter and joy for
this day!  As they tried on the clothing and jewelry, laughter was a large part of the fun, but
the 'no tears' part of the edict somehow got lost. They laughed as some of the fashions were
passe and some looked just downright funny on the girls. That outfit was just right for
Barbara; those pants were just a fit for Beverly; this dress was absolutely Susie, and that one
would be fine for Dianne! But they cried as each of the daughters received a set or piece of
Dorothy's 'good' jewelry to pass down to their daughters from Grandma.

It was a bittersweet day for them as they all knew the end was very near.  Dorothy passed
away only four days later. Beverly has retold that day over to me many times and she will
forever thank her Mom for the selflessness of her Unbirthday Party. That way, Dorothy
managed the giving away of her effects taking that responsibility from her husband and
daughters, lest they be emotionally unable to part with "Mom's Things" after she was gone.

Being a devout Christian, she had lived a good life, cared for her family well, laughed more
than she cried, and wanted no lingering tears for her going to be with the Lord. Most of all,
her Unbirthday Party left the girls with something to smile about and to remember their Mom's
wonderful sense of humor and love for them all.

When we have family reunions and get-togethers, instead of dredging up unpleasant
experiences of the past, or bemoaning any unfortunate situation in our lives, perhaps we all
need to make the gatherings Unbirthday Parties where we thank God for another year
together, and for allowing us another year to thank Him for the uncounted blessings He
sends us every day and the joy in our lives.

For Dorothy, it was her last birthday in our world, but think of it:  It was her first birthday with
the Lord in heaven!


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