Tuesday, March 25

Happy Birthday, Birthday Lady

“Happy burffdayh to you…Happy burffdayh to you…”

The off-key, seven a.m. solo always made me smile. I never met her face-to-face, never knew her name, but a decade ago, I looked forward to the Birthday Lady’s yearly phone call. For me, it was a pleasant start to the day I celebrated my birth.

In our small town, a ladies group published a calendar which listed the birthdays of their friends and relatives. Since, my grandmother belonged to the group, my name and all the names of my family members were included. Sometime, during the early 1990’s, the unknown “Birthday Lady” decided to start calling everyone whose name appeared on the calendar to personally wish them a happy birthday.

The first year I received her call, I dismissed the elderly woman with a chuckle.

“Is this Lori?” she queried. Following my reply in the affirmative, she began to drone, “Happy burffdayh…”

When she finished crooning, she added in a lilting voice, “And I hope you have a very special day.” Without identifying herself, she hung up.

Days later, my husband and daughter received calls on their birthdays. Within a few months, several people we knew reported that the same woman had contacted them. The following year, precisely at seven a.m. on my birthday, she phoned again.

“Is this Lori? Happy burffdayh to yooouuuu….”

I had to admit, I admired her tenacity -- there must have been hundreds of names on that calendar. And, I found her sincerity and good will refreshing.

Year after year, my family members looked forward to our annual calls from the Birthday Lady. However, there were others in our community who were offended. The Birthday Lady had a bad lisp and some people claimed she was a nuisance, a blight on our fair town. “The nerve of such a person,” they protested, “how dare she rudely awaken innocent citizens with an early morning phone call, and her less than perfect voice!”

Someone did some checking and identified the Birthday Lady. A couple of people phoned her to complain. Soon, she stopped singing. A short while later, the Birthday Lady passed away.

I recently celebrated another birthday and, yes, Pollyanna that I am, I miss the Birthday Lady. I regret that didn't ask her when her birthday was. I don’t sing, but I could’ve called and wished her my best. I could’ve thanked her for the joy she brought to each of my birthdays; it breaks my heart to think no one else thought of thanking her either. Maybe one day I’ll be given the chance to tell her what her calls meant to me. Until then, if blogs are read in heaven, I’d like to say, “Happy Birthday, Birthday Lady.”

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