On my birthday… Top 43 things I’ve done in my 43 years:
1. Given birth without any drugs. Some of the most excruciating pain I’ve experienced but the miracle and grace of both childbirths cannot be described.
2. Rode the Beast at Kings Island without completely soaking myself.
3. Married my hubby. Some of the most excruciating pain at times (ha) but his humor and love for family surpasses anyone’s on the planet. He is my number one supporter and I’m so glad I get to share this life with him.
4. Swam with a shark! Yes, only a three foot shark but still, a shark!
5. Traveled with my dad and Meg on family vacations to Michigan and Washington. I would pout up a storm as a teenager about having to go and now I am so grateful for those memories and for instilling a deep appreciation of nature the outdoors in me.
6. Parasailing! I would never do it with Jon in Cancun but Ri convinced me in Florida. I was scared sh–less but I did it.
7. Watched my sister give birth to my niece. It was one if the most tender, intimate, amazing experiences of my life, and it was kinda nice not to have to push and struggle in order to see the birth!
8. Walked with Ri and Mario as infants in the Baby Bjorn. I still can feel their tiny head resting on my chest and their baby feet cupped in my hands.
9. Finished a marathon! I would have never done it without Sarah asking me to run it with her. Hell from mile 15 on but it was like childbirth: hell going through it and within ten minutes afterwards, you are ready to do it again!
10. Trips to my Grandma Menkedick’s house. She never disappointed. Always had chips and cookies to share and hilarious stories about card games with her friends or vacations she took. She was a true grandma in the sense of the word and we loved each other dearly. As I laid with her in her final days, she continued to whisper “you were a good granddaughter, Mary.” And I made sure she knew she was a beautiful grandmother.
11. Danced with a turkey in Mexico. That’s right. At Sarah’s and Jorge’s wedding. Mexican tradition we were told. My dad and I had drank enough Mezcal to not care whether it was tradition or not.
12. Taught aerobics. I was no Jane Fonda but I taught a mean class for a while.
13. Traveled to New York with my mom in my early 20’s. What a hoot we had between seeing Phil Donahue in person and getting hit on by New York construction workers.
14. Spent a lot of time with my Heile aunts. These women showed me love, let me watch inappropriate movies and listen to disco music, played card games with me, fed me junk food, let me spend the night, and listened to me ramble on and on about my superball collection and my stuffed animals. They will all be sainted for that.
15. Took a 40th birthday vacation with my long-time girlfriends to Italy. Nothing like connecting with old friends over wine, the Italian countryside, and home-cooked meals.
16. Coached girls’ softball. I love watching these girls gain confidence in themselves and support one another. And it’s awesome spending time with my girl.
17. Hosted a surprise 60th birthday party for my mama. She is the last person to ask for pampering and I was thrilled to give her some.
18. Biked 100 miles in Pelotonia to support cancer research. On a mountain bike even!
19. Took an 8th grade class trip on a bus to Washington DC. Everyone has got to partake in that experience once in their lives.
20. Kissed a dolphin. One of Jon and I’s favorite excursions in Cancun.
21. Watched my brother act in a play at Ohio State and jam it out with his musical band on stage. He is an artist in every sense of the word and I marvel at his talent. I love how Ri proudly brags “my Uncle Jack is famous because he has a CD.”
22. Bought a gorgeous home in Grandview that is already filed with hundreds of memories of times with kids and family and friends (Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are the best!).
23. Had a super short 80’s spiked-on-one-side haircut that I will never ever have again.
24. Stood front row in a field in Ireland and watched Michael Jackson perform a full two hour long concert.
25. Caught a baseball thrown to me by my favorite Reds player of all time, Dave Parker, and completed a 5K that ended in the Reds Stadium (and won first place in my division!).
26. Wrote to Anna Quindlen after the birth of Maria telling her how much that her article in Newsweek about her daughter, Maria, deeply affected me. She wrote me a thoughtful letter in return. Cherish.
27. Went sled riding down Wyman Woods hill with Maria and Mario nearly every Winter – even when there was barely any snow and a lot of molehills that had my butt bone aching for days.
28. Hunted turkeys with Jon at 5 am in the morning. Nothing like spacing out to a gorgeous tangerine sunrise only to be awakened by rifle shots and turkeys squawking.
29. Entered a hot legs contest but came in second. Allegedly it was rigged for the girl who won first to win it – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
30. Took in the Grand Canyon with Jon and the kids. One day we will head back and hike to the bottom and back up.
31. Got my law degree. I wish I could change careers every three years but this degree has done me well.
32. Participated in the Day of the Dead celebration in Oaxaca with my mom and sis and Jorge. The reverence and beauty in the celebrations of their deceased is beautiful.
33. Flew right next to the pilot in a tiny airplane from Key West to some city in Florida I cannot recall. But I can recall the amazing sunset that occurred before my eyes. Both terrified of the flight and mesmerized by the beauty of the falling sun.
34. Dipped my legs into the Arctic Ocean. Jon dipped his entire body and shivered for four hours afterwards (even with 30 minutes in a steam room).
35. Petted an alligator. The kids got a kick out of this adventure – where else but off the highway in Florida.
36. Nursed my babies. It didn’t last long and pumping was a bit– but the experience while it lasted created such a peaceful intensity.
37. Strollered my babies everywhere the first five years of their lives. God, I loved that BOB. It took us to the river to throw rocks, up to Giant Eagle for donuts, all around Grandview for me to get my run in, through Blue Ash to get Marx Bagels, to the parks. I was depressed for a good month when Mario would no longer ride in it.
38. Saw Prince in concert twice. Once in 6th grade with my mom – dressed in all purple and sat at the top of the coliseum and once with Jon and sat in the first 20 rows of the arena. Prince was sexy and amazing both times – total crush on him.
39. Witnessed Jorge get sworn in as a US citizen, and witnessed the joy and determination in the scores of immigrants’ faces who were joining Jorge in the process. There was no way to not feel immense joy for the entire rest of the day.
40. Climbed the steps of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh with Sarah and Ri.
41. Ate a fried grasshopper.
42. Jogged the 7 hills of Cincy race and ran up every hill.
43. Kept a blog so I can remember all these things. With each year, I forget more and more!
I by all means know how blessed I am to have been able to experience all I have in these past 43 years, and to possess such a richness of both family and friends. There’s no stopping me at 43 – can’t wait to see what’s on my list of things I’ve done at 86!