I refuse to steal the HAPPY out of HAPPY BIRTHDAY


I don’t remember all of my birthdays, but 19 was especially memorable. My friend, Dave, took me out for dinner. It was our favorite Chinese restaurant and I’m sure there was a Scorpion Bowl or Mai Tais or something else really sweet and really strong. We stuffed ourselves with beef and broccoli, and then Dave insisted on ordering dessert. Who does that at a Chinese restaurant? Fried ice cream or something odd and I could hardly fit in a bite. Besides, I was anxious to get back to the apartment. It was my birthday and I wanted to grab our friends and go out.

I felt like Dave was going in slow motion as we made our way back to the Woodrow (think rundown/gritty/college three-story apartment building in Baltimore). I was so focused on how lame he was being that I didn’t considered WHY he was moving so slowly until we walked through the door.


I’ve never been so shocked. Somehow, without me having even a clue, my mother had contacted my best friend, Enger, and sent her some cash to plan something nice for my birthday (remember this was years before cell phones). I’m guessing that my mother had envisioned sparkling wine and canapés, but instead there were pizza boxes and a keg of beer. It was one of the funnest nights of my life. Rowdy, loud, and silly. 19.


JackO is turning 19 on Saturday.

Each milestone that we reach comes with a little reminder of what coulda/shoulda been and I hate that. I hate that there is any hesitation on focusing on the happy part of happy birthday. I hate that I spend even a second wondering if I would have sent money to Jack’s college friends to buy some booze and party favors (probably not – 2017 is not 1988 – I’d probably end up in jail for contributing to the delinquency of minors). I hate that I wonder where Jack would have gone off to college. I hate that I use any ounce of energy cursing ALD — AGAIN.

But I do. I can’t help it.

When I started writing this, it was for me to post on Jack’s birthday, but I’m not going to wait until Saturday. It’s not fair to Jack. It’s not fair to his birthday. His birthday is for celebrating. He deserves it. He is the happiest person I know and NOONE likes a celebration more than our boy;)


So — enough of the coulda/shoulda. We are going to celebrate all weekend. Heading to the beach with some of our closest friends. We’re going to eat pizza and cake and maybe even find ourselves a Mai Tai!!!!! Then, on Monday we will celebrate again with his pals at school. And, when we head to Block Island later in the month — we will have more cake and do more singing.

I will send some photos of all the fun on his actual birthday. In the meantime – send Jack a note. On Facebook or right here. Scroll down. See “Leave a reply”? Go for it!

Love, JackO’s mom

PS Once I have written down my feelings, I feel much better. No need for weepy phone calls or awkward hugs if you see me. I promise I’m now focusing on WackO JackO and his big, fun day/week/month.

PPS I wrote this last night and, as I was falling asleep, it occurred to me that I might have actually been remembering my 20th birthday. Enger? Dave? Betsey? Deb? Anyone?



21 thoughts on “I refuse to steal the HAPPY out of HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  1. Happy Birthday, JackO!! Wow – 19!!
    We love that you are always smiling.
    You bring so much happiness to everyone around you.
    Have the BEST day!
    The Headleys


  2. Happy Birthday Jack. YourcMom said it is your birthday and I wanted to send you some Block Island birthday hugs and kisses. Heard you we be out here later in the month. I think you should have some paper umbrellas to brighten your birthday beverages. Oh, if you don’t know about those, ask your Mom!!!🎂🎉🎁🍹🍹🍹


  3. JackO…a very happy happy 19th birthday to you🎈
    Your momma has a wonderful way of expressing herself and…. life. I appreciate her honestly and love for you and your family.

    Have a fun birthday weekend. 🎂🎉🎁

    A friend in Minnesota


  4. Happy Birthday Jacko!! Man you are a lucky guy to be able to have two birthday parties each year! Hope you sing and dance and get to watch those silly impratical jokers…oh and have some yummy cake and ice cream too!! xoxoxo


  5. Happy Birthday, JackO!!!! Don’t eat to much cake! Oh wait, go ahead and eat as much cake as you want, it’s your birthday. May you be blessed with many more. Can’t wait to see pictures of ALL your celebrations!!!


  6. JACKKKKKKK 19 already !!! Why are you making me get older. You know that I’m suposed to just stop at 30. Wishing you the Happiest, Eackiest funniest lots of cake Cake (i.e. St) birthday ever. Love you always. ✌🏻Marcie.


  7. You may not know us very well Jack but we do remember having a great time with you on Block Island about 5 years ago at your PopPop and Nana Sue’s home. Have a great birthday Jack and party hardy!! Natalie and Bob Pomeroy


  8. Happy Birthday to Jack! Let the celebration start and keep going on! I hope your mom finds one of those sweet drinks 🍹 to celebrate with. 🎂🎂🎂🎂


  9. Pingback: HaPpY 19th! | smiles and duct tape

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