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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2236778-My-21st-Birthday
Rated: E · Short Story · Experience · #2236778
verfabula contest november 2020
This isn't a story of drunken revelry. This is the story of a life imploding. Several months before my 21st birthday my mother and I were in a violent car wreck. Neither of us could work. We were on the edge of survival before and had no safety cushion of savings. Come my birthday we were days away from eviction from our home.

My mother's birthday was one day before mine, and I struggled to find her a present that would give her some idea of how much I loved her. I had one dollar to spend. I bought her a lottery ticket and made her a card that said my thought is to give you millions of dollars, "I hope it counts and I hope you win."

I didn't expect much for my birthday. Everything we had was in storage and everything but the electricity had been shut off. We didn't even have a tv to watch, and there wasn't anything to watch because the cable had been cut off. I had one TV show that I followed and I had missed it for two weeks. It was a small thing but on top of everything else...

On my birthday my mother handed me a small rectangular package, about the size and shape of a paperback book. I opened it confused but hopeful that it was at least a good book. It was two TV Guides. she had bookmarked the pages where my show was listed and highlighted the descriptions of what happened in the episodes I missed. It was a gift to cry over.

Several days later we were timidly walking through the front door of a homeless shelter. We spent seven months there. I learned that charity wasn't always charitable. I volunteered in the kitchen. I learned dozens of ways to turn canned peas into unique meals for sixty people. That was karma for all the times that canned peas were the only thing I donated to canned food drives.

After seven months the insurance money came through and we were able to rent a townhome. It was miles above the homeless shelter. We had enough extra money to pay the fee to use the complex clubhouse and pool. It was practically a paradise. The best thing was a few days after we moved in and got cable hooked up, there was a marathon of my favorite show and I saw every episode I had missed.

Storms pass in life. No low spot is permanent. There is always a hill to climb but the view from the top can be better than what you had before. Some things that I think about are our birthdays that year. Her gift was better than mine, she didn't even win two bucks. I still have the tv guides she gave me that day, they remind me that even the smallest thing can bring a smile in a dark time, and give you enough hope to make it through. So the next time you think you can't help with some small thing, rethink the can of peas and go all out, donate a can of peaches.
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