By Cece Poister
There was a time when “becoming a teenager” was a big deal. The magic number was thirteen and caring about it was more a girl thing. I can remember a few friends actually had parties. As my birthday approached and the big thirteen was coming, I was excited to be a teenager. I was not expecting a party, just the usual cherry pie, my favorite dessert, made by my mom A couple of days before my birthday mom went into labor with her sixth child. As the oldest of five already, this was not a big deal to me. When my dad came home from the hospital, he was very somber and told us that our brother had not made it. The infant was a stillborn Mom was very ill and she would have to stay in the hospital for a while. He got a babysitter for the little ones, asked the older ones to help as much as possible when home from school and went to work the next day. He visited my mom every day before she came home.
When my birthday was only a day away, I realized there would be no cherry pie to celebrate. What I had going for me was the local Saturday night high school canteen on the night of my birthday, and my being old enough to attend.
On the night of the dance, I got dressed and ready to go. We lived in Beaver and went almost everywhere on foot or bike. On this occasion I would walk since I was wearing a dress. When dinner was over, and the dishes were done I was ready to leave. The doorbell rang and I went to answer it. Standing there was the local florist delivery person with a box. My dad came to the door, took the box and thanked him. I thought this was for my mom. As I was putting my coat on, my dad called me over and handed me the box. Inside was a wrist corsage for me.
My dad felt so bad about how things were going for my birthday that he bought me this to wear to the dance to celebrate my turning thirteen.
Part of me was stunned and thrilled, but another part of me knew it was going to be embarrassing wearing this when no one else at the dance would have flowers on her wrist. I could see by the look on my dad’s face that he was happy for me and wanted me to have a memorable thirteenth. He knew that Mom’s stay in the hospital had put a big damper on the birthday celebration and was trying to lighten the mood.
I put on the corsage with feigned enthusiasm on and proceeded to the dance. I did wear it all night and got many questions as well as some teasing.
Getting the corsage made an impression on me, but not until I was an adult with time to understand how much that gesture meant. I did not know that my dad had to bury his son alone at the cemetery with just the priest in attendance since my mother was still too sick to get out of bed. I don’t think my thirteenth birthday would mean as much today if it had gone as I had planned. The wrist corsage is a treasured memory forever.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”