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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

A couple we know are having fun traveling and enjoying a full social life with dozens of friends. They both lost their spouses and are grateful that they have found someone to spend time with. Les and Marilyn are in love but have chosen to remain single, saying it’s easier that way with their respective children. They continue to live in separate houses. Marilyn celebrated her 70th birthday this year and it was nothing special. She went to her son’s house in Ohio expecting a little attention. She got just that: little attention. Her son and his wife gave her $25 worth of movie tickets. This is their usual gift for just about any gift-giving occasion. There was no party, no cake, no big deal. When Marilyn asked her son if anything else was going to happen to celebrate her birthday, her son said, "Mom, you expect too much."

In my mind, a 70th birthday should be a special occasion. It is definitely a milestone. When I had mine, we had a weeklong celebration on South Padre. We rented a condo and all our kids and grandkids were there. On my birthday my son turned on the TV. The image on the screen was a picture of a baby. I thought I recognized that baby. It was me. My son Kevin, a video producer, made a documentary of my life, narrated by my grandson. My son BZ a composer, created some special music for it. Both daughters-in-law helped my wife go through thousands of photos to find pictures of me taken at various stages of my life. It was a beautiful piece of work that brought me to tears, thinking how fortunate I was to have a family that went to a lot of effort on my behalf. I will always treasure that video. It made my 70th birthday perhaps the best one ever.

Back to Marilyn. While she was visiting her son in Ohio (at her own expense) his mother-in-law was also getting ready to have her 70th birthday. He and his wife were planning a big party for her. They were constantly on the phone, contracting with the country club, the bakery, the caterer, the dance band and all the other entities involved in putting on a big event. Marilyn heard it all and felt like she was in the way, so she thanked her son and his wife for their (not so generous) gift and went home, feeling worthless. She later heard the party was the big social event of the year and 80 people attended.

Some months later, Marilyn paid a return visit to her son and his family. This time, they took her out for a meal. Marilyn’s daughter-in-law had also invited her mother, the one that had the big 70th birthday party. During the course of the evening, Marilyn’s daughter-in-law asked her mother how she liked the new flat panel TV that she and her husband had given her for her birthday. Marilyn sank lower in her chair.

Marilyn has always been more than generous with her kids and grandkids when gift-giving season comes around. She has taken each grandchild on a trip. The next holiday season she is considering giving her son and his wife in Ohio $25 worth of movie tickets.

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