I’m a whiner. I admit it. Not about the big stuff but the middlin’ stuff like shoes that pinch and birthdays that end in zero.
So I spent most of 2009 whinin’ and complainin’ about turning 50, which I did last December 26th. I shoulda just kept my trap shut since I had the best birthday ever thanks to my wonderful friend, Leigh Limerick Rosenecker, formerly of North Carolina, currently residing in Morgantown, West Virginia.
As I wrote last year in this space Leigh, “mom extraordinaire, ace cake decorator and one-day Jeopardy champ, set up a Facebook group to secretly gather 50th birthday greetings for me. She printed the messages out, cut them into strips, punched holes and stuck multicolored birthday candles into them before mailing them off to my husband.”
Once I stopped crying, I had simply the best birthday ever. New friends gathered to help me celebrate as my cake with 50 candles blazed, the greetings from family and old friends more warming than the flames.
Tonight when the clock strikes midnight Leigh hits one of those ‘ends in zero’ birthdays. And I want to wish this extraordinary friend an extraordinarily happy birthday.
We met one summer nearly a decade ago in room three of Martin Hall, home to the school of journalism at West Virginia University, in a reporting class I was teaching. She was an ‘adult student,’ along with our still-friend Steven. Her presence left one classmate ‘star struck’ because he’d grown up listening to her father, Doug Limerick, a longtime radio newsman /sometime replacement host for Paul Harvey.
Her presence immediately enriched my life. Some people tell stories; Leigh is the story. When she started talking in her rich voice ripe with traces of her North Carolina-ness, I never wanted her to stop. Whether it was about making biscuits on an old cast-iron stove or covering a story for her then employer about antique firearms, I wanted to hear more.
Leigh’s heart is as big as her talents, which include writing, baking, being smart (‘Nice girl but about as sharp as a sack of wet mice,’ is the self-effacing Foghorn Leghorn quote she embraces & uh, Jeopardy big bucks winner!) and mothering. She has two adorable towheads, Colin and Charlie.
Because it’s your birthday, Leigh, I won’t make any comments about Alton Brown-like hairstyles! Leigh is not a fan of Mr. Brown and should probably be the next Food Network star, though she shuns the spotlight.
This woman is stunning and funny and warm and sincere and ribald and clever and the best friend, the kind you can just pick up with after months of only conversing via a social media site.
If you were the 21st century equivalent of the little match girl, Leigh would take you in, warm you up, introduce you to her goldfish, and feed you cookies.
And if you were a whiney, cranky woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown over a date on your birth certificate, she would gather up words, your most cherished thing (besides your own children) and shower you with them.
Thank you again, my dear friend. And Happy Happy Birthday!
P.S. Your real present will be in the mail…