Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The ‘ALMOSTS’


I was almost born on February the 29th. It was a leap year, and my mother went into labor that morning. She told me she worried that I would not have a real calendar-birthday but once every four years, and I still think she willed me to wait until the early morning of March 1st. My best friend and I loved thinking about this, and trying to figure out how many birthdays I almost would have had. We talked about how I was ‘almost just one’ or ‘almost just two.’ It was good for developing early division skills.
When I was six-months old I almost died of Hydrocephalus. A new surgery, just pioneered, saved my life. For years I would joke that whatever cognitive skill I did not excel at was because of that episode. But that Almost saved my life and my cognition, such as it is.
When I was a teen I almost met a prime minister. That story, as told by my mother, went something like this: my mother was a divorced single parent, and I was her designated partner for all cultural events. Once again we were going to a good concert of a world-famous pianist, when I refused to come along. The way I remember it, I had a final exam the next morning and needed to study. My mother took a dear friend instead, and when they came back late that night, their faces were flushed with excitement. Seems that they ran into another old friend who was there with the son-in-law of Golda Meir, then the prime minister of Israel. For some reason the four of them headed to the prime minister’s residence after the concert, and who made them coffee and served cookies? You guessed it. Golda even apologized that the cookies were not home-made. I know you’re thinking my mother made this story up, but if you knew my mother you’d know she hadn’t.
As a writer I’ve had plenty of less dramatic ‘Almosts.’ Almost went to acquisitions, almost made it through acquisitions, and the picture book that made it almost all the way to publication. These are the almosts I know about. There may be some only the great designer of all things knows.
But of all the almosts, it is the missed leap-year birthday that I keep coming back to. I may be excused now for wishing I had a lower birthday count, or maybe hoping for some distinction. It isn’t that, really. It is a sense that something of a tone had been set to my life story. The ‘just missed it by a hair’ strain. For good and for bad.

To be honest, I have had many ‘hits’ and much good fortune, not only near-misses. But this is February the 29th, after all. Today is my almost-birthday.

I raise a glass of sparkling cider (it’s almost champagne)-Cheers!

16 comments:

  1. What a delightful post.

    When I think of "almosts" it's in the reverse. I think of how my life may have been different if. . .and it always makes me thankful for a guardian angel who I'm sure pulled me back from the brink of many a life-changing moment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Almosts to me mean "not meant to be's" - I do have a dear friend who is 12 today - she's celebrated 3 fewer birthdays than her son. I've always loved that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to stop and do a wee bit of arithmetic there^, Robin, but it works. :)
      As to 'Almosts equal not meant to be,' there’s the flip side of dodging the bullet. Almost is a flavor of occurrence more than a moral.
      Well, almost.

      Delete
  3. How funny that as children we want to relish and remember all the things that make us unique or put us in danger, whereas mothers want to keep us normal and safe! I love this idea of writing about almosts! I almost moved to both China and then Luxembourg when I was in 6th grade. I often think about how that would've changed my life.

    Anyway, thanks for a thought-provoking post, and, since it's officially 1 March on my side of the Atlantic, I can say happy birthday for real!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. Would you believe the surgeon's name was doctor Feinmesser? Translated- it is something like 'Good-knife.' No 'almosts' there!

      Delete
  5. Happy yester-birthday! :)

    My son also has an almost-birthday, though not Feb. 29. He was born at 12:02 am. So everything happened the day before except the official part!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now you have me thinking about almosts, wondering how many almosts I have in my life.... Great story about Golda Meir. I love that she apologized for the cookies!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are so cool, Mirka. I just read your about page on your website. You've made me wonder about your parents and if they got the kibbutz up and running. Did they succeed?

    There is a story in there. A good YA. I can feel it.

    And happy almost birthday! (I'm late, obviously, so I almost got it right!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My upcoming novel for middle grades, VOICE OF THUNDER, uses biographical elements for a fiction story. Set in Jerusalem, you can guess where my parents wound up after they left the kibbutz.
      Thanks for the idea^ and the well wishing. It's almost my BD, again ;)

      Delete
  8. Great post! be thankful that your still in this world.. thank you for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for finding my blog and stopping by, Jeremy. I see you've commented on *almost* every post, and I thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a great post. I loved these almosts! Yes, I've had some almosts along the way in my publication journey!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fun story about your mom and Golda, Mirka! Love all your almosts. I'm hoping the almost pb becomes a reality some day!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderful post Mirka! Lots of almosts to think about, but the possibility of the leap year birthday takes the cake (get it? birthday cake ... sorry, couldn't resist). Hope your next submission is more than almost!

    ReplyDelete