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Stop! Let’s Celebrate My 70 Years!

70th birthday - Stop

Stop! This week, on June 27, 2023, I celebrated my 70th birthday, and I have interrupted my Scotland trip-focus with a celebration of me!

A Poem I Wrote About My Birth

In my book, This Tumbleweed Landed, I wrote a poem about my birth story. I don’t know about you, but I heard this story often, and it naturally became a poem. Key phrases throughout the poem I heard from my parents frequently and swelled with pride. The repeating of my birth story cemented in my soul and spirit how much my parents wanted and celebrated me. Enjoy!

Larada Reading Her Poem, “I Was Born Dancing”

A Ring to Celebrate My Heritage and Me

Last week, I went to Branson, Colorado to visit our family ranch, my brother and friends. On Tuesday, my brother walked into my house, moved to the breakfast bar and handed me a small unwrapped box, saying, “This is your birthday present from me and my kids.” That’s the way he does his gifts—no wrapping, but a lot of thought and love put into the gift.

I gasped—it was a ring with reversible stones. On one side was my dad’s brand and on the other was my granddad’s brand! But in my fuzzy stupor from the pain pills I’m on, I thought it was a slide for a necklace.

Fast forward to Thursday, we went to the Walmart in Trinidad and then had lunch to celebrate my upcoming birthday. While in Walmart I looked at silver necklaces for the slide.

After shopping, I said to my brother while eating, “I looked at necklaces for the slide you all gave me at Walmart, but I found nothing. I’ll go to a jewelry store in Albuquerque and buy one.”

Not looking at me, he stated, “It’s a ring, not a slide. Remember, I asked you if you wanted to try it on when I gave it to you!”

Again, I gasped! I apologized and asked him about how crazy I must have seemed to him!

More to This Ring Story!

How foolish am I! In March, my brother and I had looked at Calvin Begay’s jewelry in Trinidad, and he had reversible rings like this. I have been a Calvin Begay fan for years! I have one of his rings, and we just finished buying three beautiful expensive pieces from Calvin! It all made sense now.

He added, “It is from me and my three kids. They helped pay for it!”

Quickly, I texted my nephew and two nieces and apologized for the delay in my thanking them and told them the story. They got a big laugh out of it, and Cheryl added, “Lol! Now it will always make you smile for sure!”

Seventy, yes, but this brain fog came from the pain medicine, I know. So, I went to my house in Branson and put the gorgeous ring on and marveled at the fit—like Calvin Begay made for me! LOL! He did!

My brother and niece had texted me early in June with a bet between them on whether her ring finger was bigger or smaller than mine. I thought nothing about it! When I texted my apology, she added, “The story about our ring size being the same was a fake!”

My Delightful Day

After returning home to Tijeras on Monday, I woke up to my husband, Lin, singing happy birthday to me. Then he presented me with a beautiful bouquet, card and a generous gift to help finance my part of our trip to Germany in September.

I had a delightful morning. I led a meditation group on Facebook Live I love and shared my poem about my birth and a Mary Oliver poem about being 70.


I wish I was twenty and in love with live

            And still full of beans.

Onward, old legs!

There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side

The roses are blooming and finding their labor

No adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea.

Shining like a song, like a body

I want to touch

Though I’m not twenty 

and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still

In love with life. And still

Full of beans.

Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, (2017): 117.

Then I attended a weekly book coaching session on Zoom. Afterwards, Lin took me out to lunch and we had delicious Mexican food in Cedar Crest at Mariachi’s. After lunch, we went next door to the Paris Bakery, and he bought French pastries for dessert.

When we got home, we ate those delicacies, watched a TV show, and I fell asleep—a deep relaxed sleep like I haven’t in a long time.

A Surprise Square Dance Party

Lin had warned me a couple time not to look in the Tahoe—I figured it was more birthday stuff. He also told me he had a hearing aid appointment at 4:30 PM, so we’d have to drive separately to the square dance that night in Albuquerque.

He left while I was sleeping and I slept for over two hours, forcing myself to wake up and get something to eat before the dance.

Happy birthday banner - Top

When I got to the hall about 6:50 PM, Lin met me at the door and I knew something was up. Then I saw a “Happy Birthday” banner over the door. He guided me through the door, and the people said, “Surprise! Happy Birthday!”

Shocked with my mouth open, I realized what this was—a surprise square dance party for me! I received hug after hug and lots of well wishes.

Lin’s smile and twinkling eyes made me laugh—he was proud of himself for getting me—for surprising me! I couldn’t stop smiling.

Lin’s color selection for the tables had sweet, poignant reasons—purple for my mom (her favorite color) and purple for our wedding.

He guided me to the food table to show me a beautiful Pastian’s bakery cake. It had on it, “Happy Birthday Larada, Greg and Lynn.” Greg and Lynn Tillery—a square dance caller in Albuquerque and his wife also turned 70 this year! Lin explained he had invited them to, but he had to tell Greg about the surprise. But Lynn didn’t know.

When they arrived and received greetings from the group, Lynn said, “It’s not my birthday!” So my Lin explained it to her about the surprise for her.

But the surprises weren’t over for me! Someone tapped me on the shoulder and it was Bob Osse, Lin’s best friend, from Arizona. He had his wife on FaceTime to share her greetings. She wanted to join us but had a family tragedy during the week and was attending to that.

Gordon, Gloria, Larada, Lin and Sandra - Friends from Utah! Stop
Gordon, Gloria, Larada, Lin and Sandra – Friends from Utah!

Then dear friends Gloria Schwab and Sandra and Gordon from Utah came in. On their way home from the National Square Dance Convention, they contacted Jerry Gilbreath about a Tuesday night dance. He told them about the surprise party! Whew!

During a break between square dance tips, Jerry sang the George Strait song Lin had played to me at our wedding, “I Cross My Heart.” So we got to do a little two-stepping!

Here’s a funny part—I handle contracts for dances at the dance hall. Jerry usually calls on the first and third Tuesdays, but about a month ago he called and asked if he could add a dance on the last Tuesday, June 27, my birthday. Because it was open, I said yes and thought, “Yahoo! We will get to square dance on my birthday!” Little did I know. . .

So, let’s stop here. I’d like to end with some haikus I wrote on my 70th birthday and the wisdom.

Seventy is here.

Yesterday sixty-nine, so?

Does one day change me?

Did I change in my

sleep? A decade older now.

I’m still Larada.

How should I act now?

Does seventy deem me old?

The same and hell, no!

I can’t hold on to

My youth, but I can stay young!

It’s my choice, so YES!

So stop! I will get back to the end of our trip to Scotland next week, but I couldn’t pass this celebration up!

How do you see someone at seventy? Is that old? Do you have a birthday story? Share it with me!

News, News, News!

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