Birthday Week and Uncle Tom

Phew, I've been busy for a hot minute- last week was my birthday week!  Let's be real, the only good things about turning 28 involve celebrating with as many people as possible for as long as you can drag it out.  And no, not all of this was stuff I did for my birthday, but I'm counting it :-)

On Monday, I got a massage for the first time in forever.  I had bought a living social deal back in like, February, and June was the earliest appointment I could get (seriously?).  To help ease the pain of buying a massage and having to wait 4 months to get it, I told myself it would be like a birthday gift by the time it rolled around, and that helped!  So Monday I had a wonderful massage, and was once again told that my back was super knot-ty and she even went "I don't really know how you walk around all day" hahaha, it's called being a swimmer.  You get used to it!
On Tuesday, The Postal Service were at Merriweather Post!  I had a couple friends I was going with, and we grabbed some beers and dinner at Union Jack's before the concert, then wandered over and danced on the lawn and sang along to all their songs.  I mean, there really are only just enough songs to play once each, haha, and he played a cover of a song I didn't know.  But I was very impressed- I wondered how the electronic sound would transfer to live!  Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis are awesome and I wanted her shoes (unfortunately not pictured).

On Wednesday I got my hair did.  There's something soothing about just sitting there reading a magazine and having nowhere else to be and nothing else to do.  I usually just call and get an appointment when I discover my hair looks terrible and I need a cut, and when I called the week before and took the first appointment available after work that I could, I kind of forgot about the rest of the events in the week, so it was good I picked Wednesday, haha.
On Thursday I was excited for my birthday (totally wore my fave dress!) and my birthday bagels at work!  We have a tradition where the person with the birthday before yours brings in your bagels, and it ends up just being a rotating system.  That would have been my mom actually, since her April birthday was the most recent.  But she was in Oregon with her brother Tom and would be flying back just to be with me for my birthday dinner.  So Dad filled in and put out a wonderful spread of bagels and even posted a big sign at the front (leave it to the architects...).
And on to a more serious note that I don't want to get lost in my other frivolous blog ramblings, my uncle and godfather, Tom, had been fighting cancer for the past 6 years, and the Friday before the NYC Amazing Race, I found out his health was rapidly declining.  Every chemo and drug they tried would keep the cancer at bay for a bit, putting him in remission several times, but it kept coming back.  He was a nuclear engineer, Naval Captain of two vessels, and an environmentalist civil servant after his Navy days, and I always saw him as this big (he was 6'-3"), strong Captain who kept fighting and winning.  He lost his battle with cancer in the early afternoon East Coast time on June 20th.  He was surrounded by family that loved him- his daughter Shelley, brother Phil, wife Ginny, and some of Ginny's family.  Ginny is already planning a get together at the River in his honor, and I can't wait to see Shelley, who I haven't seen in years, and meet a lot of Ginny's family, who surrounded him with love on the West Coast when his siblings, mother, and multiple nieces and nephews were so far away.

It's his pier that I swim to when I cross the River back and forth on my open water training swims, and I don't know how I'm going to make that first crossing without tears filling my goggles.  But Ginny says she wants to keep their place there, and I am excited to meet more of her family, and maybe have even more kayakers willing to stay next to me as I swim.  When Patti called me to wish me happy birthday, it was inevitable that we talked about Tom, and how glad we were that so many people surrounded him with love and that Mom got to be there with him and give our love.  She was quiet for a second, and then asked "He was your godfather, right?" and I said yes, and she said "It's just kind of crazy that he died on your birthday, like, you really were family" and I was now in the gym locker room, ready to work out, with tears falling.  That had hit me earlier, but hearing someone else say it made it seem more true.  Tom, you'll be missed and never forgotten and I will always swim across the River to your pier and think of you.

And I have to share this, because hearing my mom tell this story was one of the highlights of the day...  Tom would often nod to show he understood things, but was rarely actually talking in his last days.  My uncle Phil was there, with my mom and probably Ginny and Shelley as usual, and he was telling Tom that Joe and Jess (my cousins that I visited in Germany) had found out they were having a girl, and he said that they were going to name her "Philomena".  And Tom goes "You're full of shit." pretty emphatically, hahahaha.  I guess that sums up my family's humor right there, and I love that he got that little dig in and surprised everyone around him.  (For the record, I don't think Philomena is on their list, but Phil wants it to be, haha)
I later had a wonderful birthday dinner with Mom, Dad and Becky at the Stanford Grill, with a few tears shared as we discussed Tom, but the food and company were awesome, and we made sure to save room for dessert at home.  We got home to see Joe and Jess sitting on our front porch.  They were back from Germany for good, and ready to pick up the key to their new house nearby that my mom had helped scout and then sign everything on their behalf while they were a continent away.  They joined us for a bit of dessert...  Actually, Mom got me a cookie cake, ice cream, a dulce de leche cheesecake and tiramisu cheesecake, both from The Cheesecake Factory.  I may or may not have had a piece of each, but I swear they were small!  Hmm, it still added up to a large amount of dessert.  Then after a long day of traveling, and probably months of moving boxes, Joe and Jess excused themselves to go sleep, and I opened some presents.

I got some great clothes and sandals for the Philippines from Mom, Dad, Becky, and Patti (my trip coming up soon!), a book from Patti that is so me (the photographer sometimes organizes things by color...have you seen my bookshelf?), and a book from Matt that he created all about me and Dad swimming across things (there was a copy for Dad too!).  Lots of pictures from my blog and facebook from my swims for the past 2 years I've been back in Maryland :-)  It was very very sweet.  And a case that makes my iphone waterproof so that I can take pictures underwater on my trip, so awesome!

I was sorry that Patti wouldn't end up having the baby on my birthday, but I suppose having his or her own special day is better and he or she won't feel like I was there first and their day isn't as special or something.

Then, since a trip up to NYC to meet a new niece or nephew was still up in the air, I made plans with Becky and her roommate to have dinner at this Afghan place in Baltimore, The Helmand.  They started a tradition of always going for the roommate's birthdays, since they love the place, but were lacking a summer birthday to make it through to the next one.  I gladly stepped up, especially since "canceling" on these plans wasn't terrible- Becky and I would just be in NYC together instead of Bmore, and I trusted Nora to have amazing plans lined up in case we had to bail.  We ended up not having to bail on her, and her friend Christina was totally craving Afghan food and joined us :-)  It was an amazing dinner and I was glad I got to span their birthdays to help out, haha.  We walked to a friend's place nearby and I took some pictures along the way.
So to leave you hanging a bit, Patti had the baby last night :-)  The circle of life is definitely present this week.  I'll post more on that soon- I'm hoping to have a few photos of my own to add first!!  Do you know what she had? ...

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