67 Journeys Around the Sun & Still Here

When I was a toddler, I would climb on my rocking horse and ride vehemently, the front and back of its frame pulling off the floor in sound thumps. I was sure I felt the wind in my hair as I galloped through my imagined field, square in the middle of the living room. Those days, the only shoes I wore were my tiny black cowboy boots. It must have driven my mother nuts, the pounding of my little brown steed on its steel frame, the squeaking of the springs, probably me laughing and shouting as I rode hard and steady.

But she let me do it. She was like that. Betty Ann is much in my body consciousness today, all this week. Today, I am 67. I have outlived my mother’s lifespan by 35 years. She once spoke to me of my birth, with tears welling in her eyes. She was 18. She had developed preeclampsia, then known as toxemia. The OB-GYN had warned her that it was likely her firstborn would be stillborn, and that there was a possibility she would not survive. She told me she set her mind to ensure that her baby not only survived but was delivered healthy and whole. 

Oh how I loved my horse!

She and my birth father were living on Scott Field Air Force Base. He worked three jobs. I can still sense the displacement she must have felt, and the fear as she was wheeled into the delivery room, the abject aloneness. I have been consumed for the past 48 hours with thoughts of her courage, her strength. She had a cracked rib from my kicking. But she got me here.

Some months after my birth, my father completed his tour of duty and started with a new company in the Hudson Valley, IBM, so we moved to a development of modern ranch houses near Kingston, a true 1950s young family.

The marriage did not survive. Life started its recurring cycle of change that has continued through this year, times when I am thrown into the need to redefine myself and my existence. In 1967, my mother died after giving birth to her fifth child, of H.E.L.L.P. Syndrome, a severe related form of preeclampsia. Nothing was ever the same. I can report that my sister is happy, a grandmother herself, a joy to all who know her. My other siblings are still with me. We have recently started a group text thread and are more connected than we have been in decades. It gives me great joy.

Ready to do some damage in the garden.

There is much more to the story. But that is part of the memoir still brewing in my subconscious. Today, I celebrate my journey once more around the sun. COVID has brought me into my home as my center. Everything changed again, but I am more stable now than I have been in more than a decade. My work is satisfying and can be done from my home office. My garden is overrun but giving me great joy. I bought a terrific new tool to yank unwanted saplings out of the ground, employing many Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunts of delight. It is almost embarrassing but in a time of such strife throughout the world, I am clear, focused, and safe in ways I have not felt in a long time. I don’t care to look at the outer terrors right now. I am taking the day off from my concern for our world.

So this is another year in which I start my birthday with a letter to my beloveds, my friends, family, community. I have a depth of gratitude I cannot fully express, so these words will suffice. Thank you to you all, for making my life worth the ride. I am a woman of countless riches, and you are all a part of my trove, you contribute to my success. Without you, there is no me. Thank you for all the ways you bless my life, and in the words of my Aunt Mary, my mother’s youngest sister and only surviving sibling, take good care of you for me.

Peace, power, & poetry,


26 thoughts on “67 Journeys Around the Sun & Still Here”

    • Thanks Joyce, and congratulations! Wow, 50 years together. Do you think it is going to last?! hahahaha Glad you had all the surprises. Hope to see you soon. Take good care.

  1. I don’t know how I got on the list to receive this beautiful letter although I have met you and taught in the Say Yes Program at VanDuyn Elementary. First, Happy (belated) Birthday and second, ride ’em high!

    • Hi Jean, all sorts of people wind up on my list, just because we have had connection that has given to my life, and often others. Your work is important. Thanks on behalf of all the families, and stay safe, warm, and well.

  2. Georgia,
    Happy birthday! I loved that letter… such a vivid, intimate, and resonant story. I am so happy to have worked with you, been inspired by you, guided as a writer by you, had delicious meals and lovely conversations with you. A poem I read on our last night at the Martha’s Vineyard workshop (five-six… how many years ago?) was just published in Paterson Literary Review! Thank you, dear poet.

    • What great news! Congratulations. That is very satisfying for us both! I will look for it. I am delighted to have shared together as well. I was just thinking about you and you popped up here! More soon, I hope. One of the best parts of this year, in spite of the obstacles, has been the one-on-one work with other writers. I have developed a life in which everything I do for income is connected to my passion and purpose. Oh, so blessed. Take good care and keep your students well in this craziness. I know you give them strength.

  3. Love ❤️ you, love your annual birthday letter and most importantly I love the brave way you share the fragile hi.an connection. We are all but dust and yet like the dandelion we thrive and grow a d make the world more beautiful I’m our sunny presence before we are scattered away.
    Peace ✌️

    • Thank you, dear one. So someday you will take a poetry workshop and share more of that innate sense of communications through language. Thank you for the work you do and provide, the ways the world is better because you live.

  4. Wishing you another year of growth, of magic, of miracles.

    Your gift with words and the blessing that is the light inside you effuses every piece of this letter. Thank you for sharing it with us! Happiest of birthdays to you 🙂


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