Looking at my daughter’s chart, the Nurse Practitioner instructed, “Bring Tammie back to see me in two weeks.”
To access Tammie’s electronic records, the clinic appointment scheduler requested her birth date. Tammie, who was in fifth grade, leaned against me and answered like a small adult, “It’s two, twenty-two, eighty-two.”
Later in the car, I suggested, “Would you like stopping for a treat before I take you back to school?” Tammie’s answer was of course, an enthusiastic yes.
Taco John’s advertisement for Taco Tuesday blared from the car radio. I complained, “Ugh, the words ‘Taco Tuesday’ turns into an ear worm whenever I hear this! It plays over and over in my head.”
Tammie asked, “Could we go to Taco John’s for my treat?” The fast food restaurant happened to be along our route back to school, so I happily pulled into that parking lot. Instead of a savory taco, my daughter ordered a desert taco, which looked and tasted a lot like a chocolate-covered waffle cone filled with ice cream. While eating it she commented on how she liked all the two’s in her birthdate.
Smiling, I told her I liked her birthdate too, because, “Every time I make an appointment for you and I have to tell them when you were born, it’s easy to remember and all the two’s roll easily off my tongue.”
Raising Tammie held special challenges because of the birth defect she was born with. As we came up against each new roadblock, we found a way to either live with it or work around it. Some of the roadblocks in Tammie’s life were large. She needed surgery to be able to walk. Others problems were small; like how to eat a treat in the car while wearing a winter coat. Her short arms and the bulky coat wouldn’t allow her to get the food in her hand up to her mouth.
The first time this happened, I pulled over to the side of the road, took the ice cream cone from her and instructed, “Tammie, play turtle.” She obediently pulled her arms out of her jacket sleeves, up against her chest. Before handing the cone back to her I suggested, “Pull your coat zipper down a little so you can hold the ice cream close to you without getting it all over your coat.”
Three years ago, Tammie looked at the calendar and exclaimed, “My fortieth birthday will be on two, twenty-two, twenty-two! And get this, it falls on a Tuesday.”
We looked at each other and simultaneously shouted, “Taco Tuesday!”
After some serious thought, Tammie confided, “I survived infancy despite having TAR syndrome. My sister Christy didn’t. I feel like my fortieth birthday should be celebrated in a special way.”
From that day forward Tammie began to make plans. She rented a lovely park building in a Saint Paul suburb for four hours on February 22, 2022. The building had large windows, a gas fireplace, tables and a well-equipped kitchenette. My daughter bought decorations, ordered a restaurant to cater a large taco meal and invited all her friends to attend her Taco Twosday birthday party. A good friend made a cake for her and decorated it to look like a giant taco.
My daughter Niki and I planned to attend Tammie’s party, but as Taco Twosday approached, the Midwest weather forecast was for a major blizzard. Not wanting to miss this milestone birthday party, we drove to Saint Paul, Minnesota, arriving a day early, before the storm started.
On the day of the party, heavy snow fell and the wind blew it around. The roads became slick and drifts grew deep. Four or five hours before the party, her guests began to message Tammie with apologies for not being able to come to her party due to the blizzard.
There was nothing to do but go to the rented park building and put up decorations. A small handful of guests did manage to make it to the party and when it was all over, we considered the event a success.
I told Tammie, “Bad weather is like a birth defect. It isn’t always what we want, but when it happens, you just go on with life, work around it and try to make the best of the situation.”