Lindsey Atwell Birthday Party

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A Special Girl Shares Her Birthday

Evert Aldridge
Lindsey’s Grandpa – Evert Aldridge

The night Lindsey made her way into the world, I’d been determined not to deliver my baby that day.

During my pregnancy, whenever I was around my father, I promised to hold my legs together rather than have my baby on May 10th, my dad’s birthday. Every time I made this announcement, Dad wrapped his arms around his oldest daughter and hugged tight. “We’ll see,” he’d say. “We’ll see.” I’d resist his embrace, struggling to break free.  I loved my dad, but at twenty-two, we didn’t see eye to eye. He often irritated me.

Dad was a Taurus. I’m an Aries. To me, Dad’s actions screamed: Bull, one pawing at the ground stirring up dust–ready to run head first toward a snapping red cape. And me? I perfected stubbornness–like a wild ram.  I didn’t want to duplicate an obstinate relationship with my child. But at 9:09 p.m. on a Saturday evening, despite my promised resistance, I became a mother, and my dad? He became a first-time grandfather.

“She’s the best birthday gift ever,” Dad said, bending a flannelled arm to support Lindsey’s seven pound, eight-ounce frame. Back then Dad wore black, Buddy Holly-looking glasses. Behind the frames, his blueberry eyes twinkled, then turned misty as he held his granddaughter for the first time.

After Lindsey’s birth, I practically forgot May 10th was Dad’s birthday too. I became engrossed in throwing Lindsey spectacular themed parties: a trip to Ramblin’ Rod with five other friends, princess dress-up parties, tea parties, and a girlie get-together at Farrell’s ice cream parlor. One year we hustled a gaggle of kids into Chuck E. Cheese because Lindsey had begged, “All my friends go there on their birthdays!”

Lindsey Standing in Front of LimousineLindsey was a freshman at Silverton High when we rented a limousine. The chauffeur picked up my daughter and three friends. He poured sparkling cider into fluted crystal glasses and the gals guzzled instead of sipped. “It tickles my nose,” Lindsey said, giggling. The other girls nodded. Gloria Estefan sang Everlasting Love on the way to the Home Place and the girls rocked out to the beat. We ordered Hula-Lula, Cowgirl, and Cowboy pizzas, then all the slices disappeared in record time. Afterwards the driver cruised through town with four girls hanging out the open sunroof giggling and screaming like only teenagers can do.

But Lindsey never forgot it was her grandpa’s birthday, too. She looked forward to their celebrations.

After this first grandchild came into his life, Dad never seemed to mind taking a backseat in their combination family birthday festivities. The cake often arrived with animated figurines–Sesame Street, Cabbage Patch Kids, Barbie, My Little Pony. Happy Birthday Lindsey and Dad (Dad added almost like an afterthought) was written in matching pink icing. He’d give Lindsey one of his signature bear hugs, tell her happy birthday. Five or six huffs later, Lindsey would blow out all her candles. Someone would add a few token candles for Dad to make a wish and blow–but the second birthday song never sounded as enthusiastic as the one dedicated to Lindsey.

When Dad turned sixty, Lindsey turned fifteen. My siblings and I inflated sixty black helium balloons. My brother-in-law wrote a song: Sixty Candles. He strummed a guitar as he sang the catchy tune. Lindsey danced, chased balloons, admitting she thought all this extra fuss was for her special day. And Dad let her think that way.

Lindsey and Her Grandpa
Lindsey and Grandpa

For twenty-six years Lindsey and Dad shared their birthdays, celebrating with a special bond–in a way that only someone who shared this type of connection might understand.

Then Dad died without warning at the age of seventy-one. Everyone was shocked.

“Who will I share my birthday with?” Lindsey asked when she heard of grandpa’s passing. “It won’t ever be the same,” she added, tears drowning her bright, blueberry eyes–the same shade as her grandfather’s.

Recently I asked Lindsey what she remembered about Grandpa? What she missed about sharing their birthdays. Her eyes darted right, then left.

“My birthday’s not the same anymore,” she said, looking down at the ground. “I miss Grandpa.” Then her hands bolted into the air and her fingers moved rapidly, like she was signing her answer. “He taught me to swim. We both liked ice cream.” Lindsey said, pausing, her face animated with memory. She gulped. “And he gave the best hugs ever!”

Lindsey turned thirty-three today, May 10th. Dad would have turned 78. Lindsey may no longer celebrate her birthday with Grandpa by her side, but like the rest of us, we think about him everyday.

“I’ll always miss my Grandpa,” she says. “But he’s in a better place. Grandpa still shares my birthday. Just not here.” Sometimes my daughter amazes me. Dad may not be sitting in the same room, but I’m sure heaven reverberates with his exuberant shout out: “Happy Birthday, Lindsey!”

And happy birthday Dad, too.

Loving Lindsey CoverMy first book, Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs will be out September 26, 2017. If you would like to learn more, click here.

I share many passions in this world: antiquing, gardening, hiking, traveling, taking amateur photographs, writing, sitting on a white, sandy beach with my husband and sipping a frozen margarita—just to name a few. If you enjoy any of these things too, let's connect! The world is better with friends.

  • Denise Smarcz

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful Birhday Tribute with all of us. How wonderful for Lindsey & her Grandpa to be able to share such a special bond together!

    • Thanks Denise for leaving a comment. I loved reading your words. Lindsey and Grandpa did have a special bond and it sure warmed my stubborn heart. 🙂

  • Ami Mental

    A lovely tribute to your father and to the love between him and your daughter. Happy birthday to Lindsey, who has inspired me since I first heard her story in February of this year. I hope it is/was full of happiness, laughter, and that you had time to think of your grandfather, Lindsey. I have a lot of great memories of mine. My children have birthdays two days on either side of his. 🙂

    • Ami: I am so honored that you continue to read. Thanks for your kind words. I’ve passed your birthday wishes onto Lindsey and she grinned! I hope your kids had super fantastic birthdays too. Again, Ami, thanks so much for reading and sharing. I love having you as part of my reading family. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  • Oh Linda, this is a beautiful, beautiful post and a lovely way to honor your father’s memory and Lindsay’s birthday. Absolutely moving *sniff.* Happy belated birthday to Lindsay and Happy Mother’s Day to YOU, friend! <3

    • Thank you Kristi for reading and the kind words. Not only was Lindsey born on my Dad’s birthday, the next morning I celebrated my very first Mother’s Day. It was so exciting! Happy Mother’s Day back at you!

      • Hi coming back again because I still want to send Lindsey and Nick a random card and if you answered whether that same address (I think it was general delivery) is still okay I missed it. SO can I send a card and to WHERE? Or would you rather me draw it online??? <3

  • Hi Linda,

    This is Torre and Stephanie. We want to wish Lindsey a Happy Belated Birthday and a very Happy Mother’s Day to you!
    This is a beautiful story that had Stephanie balling by the end. We love your storytelling and your palpable love for Lindsey and your Dad.

    We know we’ll stay in touch by email, but just wanted to let you know that we’re thinking of you and John and hope you’re doing well.

    Steph & Torre

    • Awww Thanks for reading (and especially for enjoying. You’ve made my day. You two were one of the many wonderful surprises on our cruise. I sure hope we stay in touch. I’ll pass your birthday wishes onto Lindsey–and I thank you for the Mother’s Day wishes, too. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your newlywed lives. John and I could tell you’ll have many happy years ahead of you. If you are ever in Oregon–please, please, please let us know!

  • Linda, I seriously thank you for finding me and sharing this special post with me. I must admit, I didn’t share a birthday with my grandfather, but I still loved him something fierce and could relate so much to your daughter’s feelings here. I will be 36 years old in June and my grandfather has been gone since 1999, but I still miss him with all my heart and my birthdays, other specials days and just my daily life has not been the same with out my grandfather to share it with. I am now a follower of yours and just so happy to be!!

    • Thanks so much Janine. I could tell from your post how special your grandfather was to you. I just had such positive grandparent influences and it sounds like you did too. Thank you so much for reading and being a follower. I plan to keep my eye on you, too!

      • Oh so seriously so happy that we are both following each other now and you are right I was so blessed to have the best grandparents I could have ever asked for. Nice to know others like you and your daughter had these great types of experiences, too 🙂

  • LynnK

    Two weeks ago my dad died suddenly. His birthday was in May too. Have to admit this one made me cry a bit…

    • I’m so sorry Lynn. It is hard to lose a parent. Sending hugs your way.