To Cathy on her Birthday

Forty years ago, your late mother asked me to plan a surprise birthday party for you. I disappointed her and you by demurring. I think that we would have been surprised, but not incredulous, to foresee our relationship forty years hence. We wouldn't have been incredulous because we knew as teenagers that we were compatible spirits with long-term possibilities.

Thirty-one years ago, we celebrated your first birthday as a married couple. You were pregnant with a child that was not to be. I remember how inconvenient we found that pregnancy to be and yet how much we desired the fruit of our union.

Twenty or so years ago, we celebrated your birthday with our family of five. The kids looked forward with anticipation to the "flaming yawn" that I roasted with a pound of bacon wrapped around it. I used to buy you serious clothes back in those days and my taste wasn't half bad.

Ten years ago, we were in the midst of planning our Cape May sabbatical as we celebrated your birthday. We wondered where that sojourn would lead us. We had to squander our savings to have our ocean-front condominium for eight months, but we thought it was worth it.

Now we are down to two again as your birthday arrives. As I think back over the past forty years with all of our experiences together, I find it hard to find any regrets or anything that I would have another way. For me, it's been a glorious trip, but only because of you. When I try to peer into the past and remove you from the picture, there's nothing left to support the "what if" game; the past just fades to black. I'd like to be able to tell you what you mean to me on your birthday, but I can't really express it. My friend, companion, and lover, you're part of me now, inseparably. How could I tell my left foot how much I appreciate its help and support? Perhaps the way to say it is: without you, I'm nothing.

Ten years from now we'll be senior citizens; will we still act like kids? I hope that we will still be young at heart, blithe of spirit, and spry of body. We can't know the future, just as we couldn't forty years ago, but we can appreciate the present as it was forged by our past.

Happy birthday, Cathy, good health and happiness.

With Love from Bill 11/04/97