My husband and I drove to Iowa last weekend to celebrate our grandson’s sixth birthday. I helped with the party Saturday morning, and having eight extra children in the house wasn’t as wild and crazy as I had feared it might be. It was my birthday, too, but, let’s face it, it was more important to celebrate his. The bounty of being a grandma is the best thing ever.
We used to live in the same town back in the 1980’s, so we called a couple who had been great friends to see if we could visit with them. They told me they were going to their friends 60th birthday, but if we wanted to stop by at 7, they would visit with us.
When we arrived, I saw my friend inside, but she wouldn’t come outside to visit. My husband pushed me into the room, and I resisted, because, after all, it was someone else’s party. The people were actually singing “Happy Birthday” at that moment. Then I noticed that all of the people were facing towards the door…towards me. They were singing “Happy Birthday” to me!!!
I hadn’t had a surprise birthday party since I was in 7th grade. I didn’t suspect a thing, but apparently, my husband and his brothers, my daughter, and several friends had been busy planning for over a month!
His brothers got into it, because all three of us wives were born the same year. It was clearly a good year! The party was to celebrate all of our birthdays. My two sisters-in-law just didn’t show up until a half hour later. (That’s why they weren’t included in the same birthday song.)
It was amazingly wonderful to see friends I still love even though we moved from the area in 1990. That’s 28 years ago!!!!! I can’t believe I can throw numbers like that around, but it was like no time at all. The affection was still there. It made me think about how connections between people are so important.
I gave up a high school reunion to go to my grandson’s birthday, but it turned out that I gave it up to touch base with wonderful friends. The friends were just different than those I went to high school with. No matter how many material possessions a person has, they cannot compare to the importance of friends.
Connections stay with us and give our lives meaning.
We’ve moved a lot in our 40 years of marriage, but the small town in central Iowa is the place I feel most at home. It was purely coincidence that my son-in-law got a job nearby in Ames, but it had the effect that my daughter and her family are within a nest of extended family and friends. My grandson is starting school in the same school district that my husband attended all the way through, and my daughter attended for elementary school.
The bounty of having connections is that they provide a safety net as we walk the tight rope of life. No kidding. When I’m working with children who suffer with anxiety, we “weave” a safety net out of the names of friends and family that care about them. They work on learning to trust other people to help. They are not alone.
Children (and adults!) suffering with depression work on weaving themselves into a similar net. They are an integral part of the net, making them important to others, therefore a vital human being. (Of course, they were vital before, but this helps them recognize it!)
I am not a huge Shakespeare fan, and I certainly don’t pretend to be any expert in interpreting what the man had on his mind when writing. But the story of “The Tempest” intrigued me. I studied it as part of studying Baroque music, while earning my music degree. The main character, Prospero, and his young daughter had been dumped on an island because the Prospero was a duke and his younger brother thought it would be a great idea to get rid of his brother and be the duke himself. Prospero and his daughter lived, however, and Prospero developed his great powers of magic. After twelve years, Prospero causes a huge storm (tempest) that causes his younger brother and those on a ship with him, to crash and end up on the island.
A lot happens, but the brothers make up, and Prospero goes back to Italy. I like to believe that no matter what wonderful things he could do, his life was not filled until he went back to live within society. What are great gifts for but to help humanity?

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