No special outfit but special memories

When I was little, grade school age, I could always count on having a new outfit appear virtually out of nowhere to wear on my birthday.

One year I remember getting this sunshine yellow button-down short-sleeved blouse with a pair of blue and yellow plaid culottes.

You know how great it is to get something you really, really, really like when you least expect it?


That means someone has planned and plotted on your behalf.

That was the way it seemed to me on that particular birthday.

I loved that outfit and was proud to wear it on my birthday whatever year that was, thinking on my walk back then to Richmond Elementary School that this birthday was destined to be something extra special because of it.

In retrospect, it’s a pretty big deal that I had gotten this outfit as a surprise gift, given my mother has never been one of those shop-til-you-drop kind of gals.

Clothes shopping for fun?

A leisurely stroll from rack to rack to seek and search, to contemplate and compare?

I don’t think so.

Not on my mother’s watch.

Buying groceries for a family of five kids was enough of a consumer challenge for her.

The birthday outfits stopped the older I got, which was inevitable and a good thing, considering our clothing tastes clashed as the years went by, but no birthday came and went without my mother calling to remind me that on April 21, 1958, I had gotten her up pretty darn early on that Monday morning to make my earthly debut at 5:35 a.m.

I’ve always assumed that’s why I’m such a morning person.

I suspect that her always calling me early to say “Happy Birthday” was her idea of payback.

As for my dad, he used to call me on my birthday and sing me his animated version of “Happy Birthday.”

Something about looking like a monkey.

His rendition always made me laugh.

That tradition ended 20 years ago when dad died.

And my mother no longer realizes it is my birthday.

So today is a different kind of birthday, one where with age comes a sting of reality that no salve can soothe.

At 55 today, I see life through a different set of eyes, one of certainly looking back and appreciating the good memories salvaged in the the video memories in my mind.

Now at the halfway mark between 50 and 60, I’m thinking in many ways I am still that little girl tickled pink to wear a yellow outfit on a special day.

But I’m that way more mature person – although Better Half won’t necessarily vouch for that – who realizes that life keeps on changing, like it or not.

Happy birthday to me.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at