birthday

Thoughts from the Cliff’s Edge



I wrote my first blog post on my birthday five years ago (and maybe ten friends read it). Here I am, entering my sixtieth year, and I have something to say:

  • Don’t tell me it’s just a number. I know the number. It’s 59, dammit. 😉 And yes, I’m very aware that I’ve just entered my sixtieth year.
  • I talk to myself a lot these days, especially in the supermarket when I’ve forgotten my list.
  • I still make mistakes, but I laugh about them. Mostly. 
  • I used to pull all-nighters. Not so much anymore, unless insomnia taunts me until sunrise.
  • Kids know so much more then we did, and we thought we knew everything. They’re way too grown up, though, which is a little sad. Kids shouldn’t have to worry until they’re sixteen and driving. Then everybody worries.
  • I rarely wear makeup anymore, unless I go out. And if I go out without makeup, I’ll definitely run into someone I don’t want to see.
  • I don’t wear perfume, either. Deodorant, yes. Sunscreen, definitely.
  • I wish I’d worn a lot more sunscreen in my younger days.
  • I don’t miss full-time work at all.
  • I have never made a “bucket list,” and I never will. There are places I’ll never get to see, things I may not get to do, and it’s okay. I’ve traveled a lot. I’m not done traveling, either, or learning. But no lists.
  • Well, maybe one. Today begins the Year of Living Minimally. Throughout the coming months, I’ll be posting about this journey. 
  • There were a few Mr. Wrongs in my twenties and thirties, but at 35, I met the man who could not have been more right. I’m very grateful for that, and for him, and for the hands of my father and his mother who guided us to each other. However long we have together is a gift, something to be cherished. 
  • And speaking of gratitude, I’m thankful for coffee in the morning, a good bed at night, and air conditioning in the summer. And for you, the reader of this blog post!
  • By the way, I was just kidding about that title. Really.

Tell me something good today. Or make me smile. After all, I only turn 59 once. 🎉🎂🎶🎈🙌

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8 x 7 = ……. 28 x 2 = …….


Okay, you get it. I’m not going to lie about my age – I mean, why? What’s the point?

So I’m 28 times 2. And I wouldn’t want to be 28 again, not if it meant making the same mistakes I made in 1986. Staying with a job I didn’t like, spending money I didn’t have, acquiescing when I should have stood my ground.

photo property of Martha Reynolds

photo property of Martha Reynolds

Here I am at 28, with my best college pal. Making a face for the camera because I hated having my picture taken. Still do.

Third grade Brown Avenue School

Third grade Brown Avenue School

8 x 7. Here I am at age 8 (dead center). I’d have one more year in this school before we moved to another town in Rhode Island. See the cute boy sitting in the front? I cut him out because I was mad at him. Then I taped him back in because I really liked him. I can name every one of these kids, but only because I’d written their names down right after we moved. I wouldn’t want to be 8 again, either, not today. 1966 was a much easier time to be a kid.

So there’s my birthday reflection for this year. I began this blog on my birthday, three years ago. At that time I hadn’t written a book yet, but I knew I would. Now I’ve written (and published) five of them, and they’re pretty good books. So I’ll repeat what I’ve said to many people over the past three years: “It’s never too late to pursue your dream.”

New Underwear from a Boy


A year ago I started this blog.  On my birthday.  I was still in pain – from herniated discs and from leaving a job that was breaking me down every day.

And here it is, a year later, and I’m ready to e-publish my first novel.  After fixing the pain in my back, with my husband’s encouragement, I started writing.  I’ve finished my first book and am working on my second.  I’ve said it before, but I love what I do.

Birthdays are times to remember.  When I was little, my mother would lift me onto her lap and tell me the story of my birth, how the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, and they didn’t know if I would survive.  Our family didn’t go in much for parties, but I did have a birthday party when I turned four.  It’s a fragile memory, but I recall a boy giving me a brightly-wrapped present.  I have no idea who it was.  I opened the present in front of everyone and it was new underwear.  White cotton undershirt and underpants with tiny pink roses on it.  Even at four, I could understand the magnitude of receiving underwear from a boy.  It never happened again.  I’m grateful for that, especially now.

Grateful, too, for family and friends.  Thanks for so many wishes and thoughts today!

A Birthday Remembrance


 This is my father, John Melvin Reynolds.  He was born on December 3rd in 1918, the second of four children to James and Leah (Melvin) Reynolds.  Everyone called him Jack.  His sister Eileen was born a year earlier.  Everyone called her Bunny.  She died in 1961 after slipping on a rug in her home and hitting her head.  She was 43.  The youngest was George.  Uncle George, who never married, would send us postcards from all over the country.  He died in 1968, at age 43.  No one really talked about the death of Uncle George, and it was very sad because he was dead for a couple of days before anyone found out.  It was the only time I saw my father cry.   My dad died in 1979, on the day after Easter.  He was 60.  He had a heart attack after doing some yard work on a beautiful spring day.  That leaves Uncle Butch, whose real name is Jim.  Butch will turn 90 on December 7th, and we’ll all celebrate Butch’s longevity next weekend.

My father worked in downtown Providence.  He wouldn’t recognize it today.  The building where he worked, the old Hospital Trust Building, now houses the Rhode Island School of Design library and archives.  In the mid 70’s, he took the train to work from East Greenwich, but the train doesn’t stop in East Greenwich anymore, and they moved the Providence station.  They moved the river, too.  All part of the revitalization of Providence.  My dad witnessed the completion of the old Industrial National Bank building (the “Superman building”) in 1927.  He used to take the trolley downtown from his home in Washington Park.  Washington Park was working-class Irish then; now it’s mostly Hispanic.  Times change.  He used to eat lunch in McGarry’s restaurant (“What did you have for lunch today, Dad?”  “Ham sandwich and a glass of milk.”)  McGarry’s is long gone.  After lunch he’d walk over to Merrill Lynch to see how the market was doing.  Merrill’s gone now, too.

Once, when I was about five years old, I accompanied my father downtown to his office on a Saturday.  Before he worked in the old Hospital Trust Building, he worked in the old IBM building, at 180 South Main Street.  All I can remember from that trip was seeing a lot of typewriters on a lot of desks.  My first “real” job, in 1981, was at the Old Stone Bank.  I worked in their Real Estate Investment Group, and that office was in the building at 180 South Main Street.  There’s more to that story, but I’ll save it for another post.

On this day, I’m going to remember my father.  Today he would be 93 years old.  But the last day I saw him, as I boarded a bus that would take me to Logan Airport and off for a year of college in Switzerland, my dad was tall, handsome, youthful, and full of life.  I am fortunate to have that memory.

Birthday Thoughts


Today is my birthday, and I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m 53 years old.  But I ask myself often, ‘How the heck did this happen? Wasn’t I just 28 and in debt, single but not minding it, thinner, less worried?’  Now, 25 years later, I’m married to my best friend and content, debt-free for the most part, fighting a slower-than-ever metabolism and maybe just a little bit worried (I am pretty successful at keeping that one away).

When I was a kid, birthday parties weren’t a big deal.  Mom would bake a cake, but I never recall being asked to plan the dinner menu for my birthday.  Gifts were small but meaningful – a diary for the budding writer, swim goggles for the girl who wouldn’t leave the ocean until the last minute, a John Denver album because my parents enjoyed him, too.  As my eleventh birthday approached, I asked if I could have a party.  I don’t think I’d had a birthday party since I was four, but my parents agreed, and told me I could invite up to eight friends (girlfriends, of course, there would be no boys at my party).  So I carefully drew up a list that would be as inclusive as I could make it – having felt the sting of being uninvited, I didn’t want to return the deed.  Well, a July birthday can be a curse.  Vacations, summer travels, beach houses.  One by one my invitees called with regrets, except for the Leco twins, who indicated they’d both be out of town.  Everyone except for Anne Marie Scotti, one of the first friends I made when we moved to the new house in 1968.  Anne Marie was coming to my party!  My dad lit the charcoal and our family of five, plus Anne Marie, enjoyed hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob, followed by strawberry shortcake (the only dessert my dad would eat).  Anne Marie gave me some pretty writing paper and saved my eleventh birthday.

When I turned 30, my rich friend Ellen took me to Boston to buy me clothes, then dinner and drinks at Legal Seafoods.  On my 40th, it was back to Boston, this time with my husband of four years, and we dined at the Top of the Hub in the John Hancock Tower.  And believe it or not, I spent my 50th birthday in Boston, at the annual Fraud Conference, held at Copley Place.  Today, it’s a quieter day, but no less special, remembering parents now gone, friends close and far, my best friend treating me with the same love and reverence he does every day.  I am 53!  And I am blessed.