Opinion: Wild roses, barbed wire and birthdays

‘Have you ever driven down country roads on a sun kissed summer day’

What do barbed wire fences and wild roses have in common?

Well, absolutely nothing, actually.

Except that, in a weird kind of way, they do.

Have you ever driven down country roads on a sun kissed summer day when the world moves slowly in a kaleidoscope of colour and noticed the wild roses growing with reckless abandon, even daring to hug the barbed wire fences stretched along the ditches.

I have.

And I have always marveled at the contrast. To me it seems so ironic that something so soft, gentle and delicate could go up against barbed wire and not only survive, but flourish.

Last weekend, Family Day weekend, was especially significant for me, as it was my birthday.

It happens every year. Same day. Sigh! So old. So very, very old. Sigh again!

But, this year I was incredibly pleased that on the top of my birthday cake, was not enough candles to burn the house down, but a beautiful icing picture of pink roses against a barbed wire fence. In the background was a sky of summer time blue.

It was sad to eat the roses and the barbed wire fence and the summer time blue sky, but, of course, that’s what one does with birthday cake.

And so I did with a little help from my friends.

And I have to say it was delicious, absolutely delicious.

My birthday was certainly cause for celebration, although, I was told that the fireworks that lit up the black velvet sky in a truly glorious splash of colour on February 15 were not for me, but because of Family Day.

Who knew!

I have to say that birthdays are a little bit wonderful, sort of like the wild roses that spring up in Alberta, as perennial as the grass. It is a time, when the clock seems to stop its relentless ticking and family and friends just appear out of the woodwork bearing cards and flowers and gifts. It’s a day when love is sprinkled around like confetti and, for a brief moment in time, even if it is just an illusion, all seems well with the world.

But, then there is the barbed wire side of birthdays.

For me, and I’m sure for all of us who keep on having birthdays, there is the heavy, dark blanket of sadness that wraps itself around our hearts and threatens to settle there as we remember those who have gone on before us, those who will no longer have birthdays, at least not here with us.

Oh, I miss them so. Those dear ones whom I have laughed and cried and sang and talked with for endless hours about everything and nothing.

And, then there are the illnesses that creep, like unwanted fungus into families, bringing nothing but heartache and worry and fear.

The list, of course, can go on and on.

But, really there is no point to even go there, to the barbed wire part of life that we can all get tangled up in, sometimes because of our own choices and sometimes because, as John Lennon said, life is what happens when we make other plans.

This week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with three young travelers who had just returned from Disney Land. Now, the best thing about Disney Land is being there and the second best thing is hearing about it from those who have, in fact, been there.

And so that is what I did.

I listened.

The boys were full of stories about the wonder, the excitement, the rides and the imaginary characters brought to life by the Disney’s own magic wand.

Their parents, on the other hand, were exhausted from the long line ups, the never ending costs and the lack of sleep they had endured for their week long adventure.

I’m sure both perceptions were very real.

But, for me, hearing about the excitement, the wonder and the thrill of it all, as seen through the eyes of a child was like an unwrapped birthday gift, like the roses that spring up every year, as perennial as the grass.

And it made me smile!

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