Tempus Fugit: Thinking About the Tyranny of Forced ‘Joint’ Birthday ‘Celebrations’

Mom, Vicky, and me in 2013. This was the last time that we went out to any restaurant as a family. (Note the obvious tensions between my older half-sister and me…I don’t look too happy in this photo.)

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – two days after my 60th birthday and three days before my older half-sister Vicky’s 73rd.

In the last decade of my mother’s life (2005-2015), this would have been the “compromise” date on which we’d celebrate both occasions. I say “compromise” because Vicky, for reasons that I did not understand then nor do I understand now, demanded that both birthday celebrations be combined, instead of one for me on the fifth, and one for her on the 10th.

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Now, you need to understand that by 2005 – when I was 42 – we really did not do anything spectacular on my birthday. Mom’s health was already in decline due to aging (she was 76 on March 5 of that year, and she had been forced to stop driving because she was getting dizzy too frequently and suffered from  Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia [GAVE], which made her anemic due to blood loss), so even if she wanted to throw me a Big Bash on my birthday, she could not. The most she could do in the last years of the Aughts, or the Uh-Ohs, was to cook a meal featuring some of my favorite dishes – stuff like eggplant Parmesan or arroz con coco y pasas titote.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

Prior to 2005, my half-sister had not made a fuss about when our birthdays were celebrated, but after my 40th birthday in 2003, she started to complain about how I somehow was getting preferential treatment and she was not. She also whined that she often had to work on her birthday – March 10 – and therefore Mom had to either celebrate the occasion either before or after.

In March of 2005 – the same year in which Vicky demanded that we had to have an obligatory family dinner on Sundays (at least, the ones she had off from her job at Pan American Hospital) simply because that’s how her father’s side of the family did things – Vicky convinced our mother to combine both birthday dinners into one.

Photo by Elvis Vasquez on Pexels.com

In the years prior to 2005, this would not have been an issue for me. I had a group of friends that I hung out with. Most of its members had gone to school with me since my November 1972 transfer to Tropical Elementary, but our group also included friends I met in my college years. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary; we’d go to a Chinese restaurant or a modestly priced restaurant like The Olive Garden or Ruby Tuesdays – and many times we just went to Taco Bell or Pizza Hut.

My “core family” group before a social event circa 1989. Here, despite some conflicts in the past, Vicky and I got along – most of the time, anyway.

After 2005, though, these get-togethers ended when my friend Betsy moved from Miami to Alabama without so much as a fare-thee-well. I didn’t know she was even alive till we reconnected on Facebook several years later! And because Betsy was the keystone of our gang, we sort of dispersed without moving anywhere, and my birthday suddenly was a “just-in-the-family” celebration after 30 years of being a “group of friends” one.

Thus, Vicky’s demand that any birthday celebration be a joint one, even if it meant it was closer to her birthday than to mine, irritated me. Perhaps unreasonably so, all things being equal, but I think it was the aggressive, do-it-my-way-or-else way in which Vicky “asked” Mom to blend my birthday into hers that made my blood boil.

So, from 2005 to 2009, which was the last year that Mom was able to stick to most of her daily routine as a homeowner and materfamilias, I had no birthday celebration of my own, but instead had to “celebrate” on a day of my half-sister’s choosing.

After Mom got sick early in 2010 and she could no longer make a soft-boiled egg, much less a complete dinner for three, Vicky and I “separated” our birthdays by default.

By then, of course, we weren’t getting along, especially after Mom gave me the responsibilities of running the townhouse, including the buying of groceries, doing half the laundry (Vicky took Mom’s stuff, including bed sheets and dirty clothes, to her apartment, while I washed my clothes in our battered and barely functional washer and dryer), and managing Mom’s finances as well as my own.   

My older half-sister was angry about that – especially the part where Mom handed over her checkbook and the responsibility of paying all of the bills – and, for the next five years, did her best to make my life difficult while still acting like a dutiful member of the family. She did assist me in the day-to-day care of our ailing mother – I will never deny that – but she did it in such a way that made life harder for me.

The only “happy birthday” I had during Mom’s last five years was when I went to visit my friend Leigh and her family in the Metro Atlanta area in early March of 2011; from the third to the ninth, I had six days of rest and relaxation, and we celebrated my birthday at a Colombian restaurant called Kiosco. If Mom had not been sick, and if I wasn’t mindful of Vicky’s birthday, I might have stayed a few days longer.

Since I was not thrilled with some of the things that Vicky did while I was away, I did not leave Miami for another R&R vacation while my mom was alive. In 2014, I was invited to the Bahamas to hook up with a woman I met on OKCupid, but I ended up not going because of what had happened while I was in Georgia. I regretted that; the lady who extended the invitation was both sexy and smart, and I did need the rest and distraction, but I’d vowed in 2011 that never again would I leave either my mom or the house under Vicky’s “care.”


Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

6 thoughts on “Tempus Fugit: Thinking About the Tyranny of Forced ‘Joint’ Birthday ‘Celebrations’

      1. 1. Exaggerated sense of self-importance
        2. Constant lies
        3. Gaslighting
        4. Uncontrollable fits of anger
        5. Delusional statements
        6. Manipulative behavior

        Did I mention the lying? (Of course, I did. That’s her most awful trait.)

        Liked by 1 person

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