My birthday is coming up this month. The great thing about birthdays is that they give you another chance to reflect on your life. Better than the new year when you are supposed to resolve to do things or not do things, of which about 75% of these haven't happened by the following January. With birthdays you get your whole life to make or break your promises and dreams.
I've learned over the years to listen to that little voice of God or angels or my brain or whatever or whoever is talking to me. This sounds kind-of crazy, but I will explain in order to make my case.
Several years ago I was in nursing school and commuting back and forth to Chicago from the suburbs almost every day.
Sometimes I would drive within a mile of my grandpa's house on the way home. But in my rush to get my daughter from day care, I never consciously realized how close I was.
On one of the afternoons the thought occurred to me that I should stop and see him. Just a quick visit. But what if he's napping or eating dinner or down the street at my aunt's house? I didn't want to be rude and just show up. I was finding every excuse that I could think of not to go.
A week later my healthy grandpa was suddenly dead, found lying on the floor next to his bed, at age 94. I never did stop to see him. I ignored the voice.
So today I was thinking about my mother, living alone up in central Illinois in a run-down house out in the country, surrounded by open land that puts no brakes on the cold, icy winter wind.
I was thinking about how I hadn't heard from her since she visited around Christmas. This, in itself, is nothing to worry about. I could go months without hearing from her. It has been like this for years. She lives her own life and seems to call me when it's convenient, and I've learned to deal with that.
But as I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my lunch, the little voice spoke up and told me to call her, and being that I'm about to turn 37 and I've learned that I need to pay greater attention to that sound, I called. I got the voicemail and left a message.
She returned my call later that evening, and as she rambled on about her visit to the spa and water aerobics, I breathed a sigh of relief. She was alive and well.
My mom told me that my aunt happened to have an extra ticket for an Eagles concert on the 18th, the day after my birthday. Some other family members that I hadn't seen in a long time were also going, but she told my aunt that she didn't think I would drive all the way up from Tennessee just to attend a concert. She figured that it wasn't even worth telling me about, but since I had called, she might as well mention it.
Little did she know that I had been in one of my all too frequent "I miss Illinois" funky moods lately, and had entertained the idea of driving up there for my birthday to cheer myself up. Later on I decided against such frivolity since we were planning another vacation in May. But now I had a reason to go.