Carolyn’s Online Magazine  (#COMe)




June 12, 2016, dawned exactly—-well, almost exactly—a perfect early summer day. The rain remained distant, the sun shone in a white-clouded blue sky, the breezes cooled the high temperature (I never did look at the thermometer, but the sun, when the breezes stopped, felt hot enough to cause a deep sunburn.

I say almost perfect because strong gusts wafted and made the newspapers my husband and I were reading fold over, hiding the content (perhaps a good thing). Newspapers read or waiting to be read had to be chased across the patio when the breeze was especially strong.

This day is special. My husband is observing a birthday not everyone has the opportunity or cause to celebrate.

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When he returned home from church we settled on the patio to enjoy the Sunday newspaper. The day went peacefully before 2:15 p. m. I did some much needed weeding—the sun, breeze, and moist soil made it easy to pull many foot-long roots. Monte watched some sports game while enjoying a midday snooze.

Sandy posted a Happy Birthday wish to Monte on FaceBook. I posted pictures of his original birth day, several other childhood photos, and a shot I’d taken just yesterday.

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At 2:15 p.m. I went to the nearby Pie Shop in Laughlintown. I chose a white cake with white icing. We’d planned a simple celebration with my daughter Sandy, her husband Michael, and our friend Lois.

I playfully hung a gold-ribboned medal around his neck. It proclaimed It’s my birthday.

After lighting the candles I called everyone inside. A birthday crown on his head, Monte playfully blew out his candles relighting one that had extinguished. We enjoyed the cake and the ice cream Monte had picked up at the grocery store en route home from church.

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The evening was perfect for the summer concert in Ligonier. The Jeannette Community Band was playing their 25th concert on the Diamond. Their first selection was the first music piece they played in the original concert: The National Emblem. They dedicated their next piece, Olympic Fanfare, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team playing a championship game later in the evening.

While playing Salvation, the last piece of Christian music written before Russia banned that genre, I detected an extra instrument. It was not quite in tune with the rest of the orchestra. I looked around and found the source—a bird on top of a building.

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The band played a medley from Jesus Christ, Super Star, which had their first performance at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh in 1971.

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During intermission a band member approached Monte. The conversation went similar to this:

  • “I noticed your medal. Is it from the Senior Olympics?
  • “No, it’s my birthday.”
  • “Happy birthday.”

Intermission over, the band played several pieces, including a Beatles medley. Monte leaned over to me and said Life is such an easy game to play. He’d often sung that while our children were growing up.

The band played their traditional salute to the armed forces.

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160612 IMG_8936EPThe concert finale was Stars and Stripes Forever.

Well—not quite the finale. After the bows the clarinet player who’d asked Monte about his “medal” stood up and played a Happy Birthday solo. Monte was delighted. I was asked if I instigated it.

“No way,” I said, truthfully.160612 IMG_8954EP

Monte and I arrived home in time for the Penguins championship game. As I type this yells came from the family room. “It’s icing” “It’s over.”  Yes, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.

NOTE: Below is Monte’s perspective on his birthday, made in a comment the next morning on the Upper Room—a United Methodist Devotional site:

  • Yesterday was a good day for me. There was church (focus on the need for prayer); there was a small family gathering to share cake and ice cream; there was Carolyn’s nice Facebook post (that some of you commented on) and many responses; there was the outdoor band concert by the Jeanette Community Band in Ligonier (Carolyn had given me a medal to hang around my neck that said ‘It’s my birthday’. At intermission one of the band members came up and asked if it was a senior Olympic medal. I showed him that it was a birthday medal. After the concert closed with ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’, he stood up and played ‘Happy Birthday’ solo on his clarinet. What a surprise and a blessing. It made me wonder: ‘Do we surprise people who visit our churches by outrageous acts of kindness for one another?’ The day wrapped up with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup (this is the second time they have won it on my birthday). 
    Praise God for many blessings in my life. May God bless each of you this day!! Posted June 13, 2016 at 06:08AM CDT


Birthdays are a time to be playful, to rejoice, to have fun, to do things the celebrant enjoys. This can be accomplished with quietude or grand celebrations. Either way, birthdays are landmarks in life by which we can measure our successes, failures, and progress.

So I wish my husband a playful Happy Birthday, with many more to come.

About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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  1. Nancy Clark says:

    Happy Birthday, Monte!
    I truly appreciated your recounting of last night’s Concert on the Diamond, Carolyn. A dear friend of ours is a trumpeter for the Jeannette Community Band, and it’s always a joy to “be audience” to any of their fantastic performances. As was probably mentioned last evening, the Jeannette Community Band will be one of several local community bands performing at The Palace Theater in Greensburg on June 26. A few tickets ($10 each) may still be available.
    Keep up the good work with this totally interesting/entertaining blog, Carolyn. You continue to incite memories in this follower. I especially appreciate recollections of life as an elementary student, historical revelations that mark this area of the state and the recipes.
    You’re pretty kool with a camera, too. Keep that trigger finger working.


    • Thank you, Nancy, for you kind and generous remarks. It’s encouraging. I’ve been posting little lately because I’ve working on completing a VERY rough first draft of my novel. Should be done today. Yeah! On to the second stage.


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