Feel the beat, and love, from the tam­bourine

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - COL­UMN Tina Comeau

So my birth­day was this past week­end. Ac­tu­ally, my birth­day and Mother’s Day were all rolled into one day on Sun­day.

“That’s kind of a rip off,” sug­gested a friend on Face­book. I guess her the­ory was in­stead of get­ting spoiled on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, it was all go­ing to be pack­aged in one day.

Although where cake was con­cerned it was prob­a­bly just as well. It was my hus­band’s birth­day two days be­fore mine so I had bought him a cake. And then he bought me a cake, although it was a two-for-one-deal that read Happy Birth­day and Happy Mother’s Day.

Se­ri­ously, though. We were now up to two cakes. Did we re­ally need three?

Plus we went to my par­ents’ house for sup­per on Sun­day and there was cake there too.

I turned 49 this past Sun­day. Next year I hit the big 50. A cou­ple of days be­fore my birth­day my niece Court­ney asked how old I was turn­ing on my birth­day. She fol­lowed that up by ask­ing how old you have to be to be an el­der.

As we all laughed, my son Justin said, “Doesn’t an el­der mean some­one who is wise?”

It does, we agreed, but we were all pretty sure in this case Court­ney was re­fer­ring to it as be­ing some­one who was old.

No of­fence, she told me. None taken, I said.

And so I marked two oc­ca­sions on Sun­day, although at this stage in my life birthdays and Mother’s Day aren’t about the gifts. (Well, not com­pletely, LOL). Rather, I find now I’m mea­sur­ing my life in mo­ments.

For in­stance, the day be­fore Mother’s Day a spe­cial event took place at Point Pleas­ant Park in Hal­i­fax. The fam­ily of Baby Mil­lie – the adorable lit­tle heart war­rior we have writ­ten about – was hold­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of her life fol­low­ing her death on May 2.

I made the trek to the city be­cause I wanted to be there to show my sup­port to the fam­ily and my love for Mil­lie.

My soon-to-be 16-year-old son Justin of­fered to come with me. He had never met Mil­lie or her fam­ily but he knew how im­por­tant be­ing there was to me. (He doesn’t know this, but that was the best birth­day and Mother’s Day gift he could have given me. The gift of com­pas­sion.)

We did some shop­ping in the morn­ing and then headed over to the park. It was a beau­ti­ful event. Lots of fam­i­lies. Lots of dogs (Mil­lie loved dogs). Lots of songs. Her par­ents Caro­line and Derek read sto­ry­books that they used to read to Mil­lie. Oth­ers shared sto­ries. We all blew bubbles at the end be­cause Mil­lie was so bub­bly. And then every­one sang You Are My Sun­shine to­gether.

Mil­lie’s mom had wanted this to be a large fam­ily pic­nic­type gath­er­ing – some­thing Mil­lie would have loved – and she had also asked peo­ple to bring mu­si­cal in­stru­ments with them. I had brought a tam­bourine, in keep­ing with my ABBA/ Mamma Mia theme and be­cause I knew Mil­lie was a danc­ing queen.

As we all sang You Are My Sun­shine, I pulled the tam­bourine out of my bag and started play­ing it. And then Justin pulled out a toy drum we had brought and he started play­ing that. And then a woman glanced over her shoul­der and saw us play­ing our in­stru­ments and she pulled out some mara­cas and started shak­ing them.

I caught Caro­line’s glance and saw her smile. I was happy that dur­ing this time of sad­ness, I was able to give her some­thing to smile about.

Find­ing a tam­bourine hadn’t been easy. I had been to four stores with no luck. I had texted some friends with no luck. Fi­nally my sis­ter was able to track one down for me from a neigh­bour. I can’t ex­plain why, but it was re­ally im­por­tant to me that I bring one to Mil­lie’s cel­e­bra­tion of life.

As we were get­ting ready to leave I said good­bye to Mil­lie’s mom, who said she was so happy that I had played the tam­bourine.

I can tell you this – no gift I re­ceived for my birth­day or Mother’s Day the next day was as mean­ing­ful as that mo­ment.

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