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Flashback to my first year of marriage: 1964.  I awakened with excitement knowing it was my birthday.  What wonderful surprises lay in store?  I waited, before I went to work,  for my new husband to suggest we go out for a nice dinner together.  NO invitation was offered.  So I, not being shy, asked him if he wanted to take me out for dinner on my birthday?  A lackluster response followed.  “ok.” He’s not at his best first thing in the morning.I assumed that  maybe he had something planned and didn’t want to blow his cover.

Arriving home again several hours later, I rushed to the mailbox to see what cards were awaiting me, fully expecting a nice one from my husband, since I hadn’t received it in the morning, I assumed he must have mailed it out. There was one from my Mom and Dad. Nothing from my husband.

Oh, he’ll be bringing me flowers and a card when he returns from work, I decided.  Wrong again.

We went out for dinner together. No friends jumped out from under the table to join us.   Ah, I figured it out!  There would be a surprise party for me after dinner at our friend’s house.  When I suggested we visit them after dinner, they had no idea it was my birthday.  This had been my last best hope.  I was out of ideas.  Good thing, because there were none.

Wrapping my head around the thought that my birthday wasn’t very important was almost impossible.  I grew up in a family, where even our dog would croon(howl?)when happy birthday was sung.  The cake would arrive with great fanfare, and placed on a small circular music box that tinkled the happy birthday song.  The dog would rise up to sing just outside the dining room window.  It was always a joyful celebration. Presents followed.  What happened this year?

I held it together until I couldn’t and then broke down crying.  My husband was puzzled and confused.  I didn’t hold back my disappointment.  He became more confused.  It was revealed that birthdays were just no big deal in his family. I think he thought I’d lost my mind. I’d hoped he learned a lesson.  At least get me a damn card.  Plus, I wait all year to eat my birthday cake!

For anyone wondering.  My birthday is tomorrow, Jan 15.  I’m going to be 80.  Don’t miss it.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Naseem Hyder says:

    Happy Birthday, Dianne 🙂 Have a wonderful 80th! xoxoxo

  • Judith Wallner says:

    We’ve got you! much love tomorrow, Judi

  • Jim and Colette says:

    Dianne. Many thanks for sharing the thoughts and sorrows of past birthdays. We don’t know about you, but for the first time in recent history, an extra few birthdays qualifies us for a shot or two to gain immunity to the world around us. We miss our outings together and look forward to the time when can can share those immunities and thumb our collective noses at the world’s indignities. Happy 80th. Be well. We miss you.