Thursday, November 20, 2008


Kaye Barley with her Aunt, Eve Burchette, Harly, and her Mom, Hazel Wilkenson.

Thanks to my friend Rob Walker for inviting me to drop by. Rob just recently celebrated a milestone birthday. And I’m following right on his heels. We both agree that we cannot possibly be . . . . . - forget it, I can’t even say it!Let me try again.Six . . . Six . . . Sixty. Sixty years old. HOW did this happen?! I don’t feel 60. And am often told I don’t act 60 (this has not always been meant in a complimentary way)

But oh well, there you have it. Birthdays happen. The milestone birthdays sneak up on us. And while we’re bemoaning those milestone birthdays, other things happen. Like your mom having a birthday. We recently celebrated my mom’s 83rd birthday. At least, I did - only to be told the next week that she had actually just turned 82. Oh, the guilt. Hopefully, she’ll forget that unforgivable lapse. Especially seeing as how I did the exact same thing last year!!

Mom-Hazel Wilkinson

Funny, though, for all the talking she does about her memory and how bad it is, there are things she never forgets. Her only child forgetting how old she is might just be one of them (and as it should be). Before you all start thinking I’m being unkind, please know that she and I have, and always have had, a great relationship. She’s my buddy,and I feel pretty sure she would tell you that I’m hers.

We have not always been best friends though. When I was growing up, she never once let me forget that she was “The Mom.” She didn’t give a twig about being my friend; figuring I already had lots of friends, but I only had one mom, and it was a job she took very seriously.

And she did it well. For one thing, she read to me. And took me to the library. And she taught me how to bake Snickerdoodles. Like some of you, we’ve passed that curve of our family growing larger, and are on the other side of the slope, where its getting smaller, so when we invite family to spend the weekend to celebrate the occasion of Mother’s birth its not as though there’s a house full of people. Just me and Donald and Harley. My mom, her sister Eve, and Eve’s husband J.T. A small little group.

My mom is the second oldest in a family of 11. They’re not all still with us, and those who are live pretty far away and aren’t able to travel long distances for get-togethers any more.

It was a fun weekend. We did all those things families do when they get together - whether they’re a big group, or a small group. We ate too much. We stayed up too late. We told the same stories we tell everytime we’re together. We laughed hysterically, and boo hooed a little.
And we missed the ones who were not there.

It was a perfect weekend, melancholy and nostalgia notwithstanding, and I loved every second of it. But oh laws, did I get tired. Seemed like every time I turned around someone was saying “sweetie, would you bring me a fresh cup ofcoffee/coke/wine/whatever, please.”

At one point during the weekend when I felt as though everyone was well settled,and that they were doing fine at entertaining themselves, and that they all had their beverage of choice, I slipped off to the bedroom to close the door and read. I’m used to a lot of quiet time, and quiet time is in short supply in an itty bitty house with three extra people.

This was just what I needed. I am after all, almost 60! I get tired too you know! But then, you know what? The door opened and peeking around at me was this very short little woman with fluffy white hair, and the sweetest smile and thebrightest eyes, wanting to know if I was O.K. I invited her in and she climbed up on the bed next to me, took my hand and thanked me for having her over for her birthday. And she told me what a good daughter she thought I was.

Next thing I know here comes another woman, this one a little taller, but with the same sweet smile and the same bright eyes - peeking around the door at us,wanting to know if we were O.K. We invited her in and she climbed up on the bed with us. She patted my hand and told me what a good niece she thought Iwas. I put my book away, fluffed up pillows for us all, and asked who might want a fresh cup of coffee.

Quiet time and that book would be there tomorrow when everyone else had gone home. Tomorrow I can go back to being almost 60. Today it feels nice being 6 and being told what a good girl I am.

Kaye Barley

Kaye -- this was lovely, well put, so well put. Loved the way it came full circle! - Rob Walker


Morgan Mandel said...

Welcome to Acme Authors Link, Kaye and welcome to the 60 club!

I love your post and your Mom is so cute!

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Delightful story, Kaye. I can just picture the three of you sitting in the same bed! Happy Belated Birthday to your mom,and many more!
And Happy Birthday to you!
Pat Browning
P.S. I'd give almost anything to be 60 again. It's the new 40, you know. (-:

Julia Buckley said...

Kaye, your writing is delightful. You need to write that book--you have a certain Fannie Flagg down home candor that readers love. :)

Happy Birthday to your mom; she does indeed sound like a wonderful mother, and it seems she passed on the love of books to you.

Rob Walker said...

Hola Kaye - wonderful it twice now...will likely steal it as I am want to do...put it into a greeting card...that's right, Hallmark move right on over cause here comes Kaye in Boone. We are so pleased to have you, your mom, and your auntie join us at Acme, sweetheart. Thanks for agreeing to come by here and spread your sunshine.


Rob Walker said...

So great to have you here, Kaye, and a wonderful story you have told...inspirational. Hallmark move over!


Vicki Lane said...

Lovely story, Kaye. How lucky you are still to have an older generation in your family!

Vicki Lane

Lesa said...

Ah, Kaye. Thank you. It's the one thing I miss about being in Arizona,family. Other than my husband, the rest of my family is in Ohio. We don't get those family times very often. But, the laughter and love is certainly there when we get together. It's so nice to see that you treasure it, and the people in your life.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Happy birthday, Kaye. And don't listen to Pat--60 is the new THIRTY! I too loved the image of the two old ladies and the one spring chicken on the bed. And what a gem of a piece of writing--folks, if Kaye Barley ever tries to tell you she's "just a reader," don't listen. Kaye, now that you're old enough to drink from what Betty Friedan called "the fountain of age," maybe it's time for you to think about writing a mystery. ;)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hi Guys! I'm so glad to see you all! Its snowing like crazy in Boone this morning.

Rob & Morgan - thanks again for inviting me; I'm honored to be here. And its the perfect way for me to get myself used to this whole turning 60 thing. So far, I haven't had any major breakdowns over a milestone birthday, so really don't expect to with this one, but ya just never know. I've never really understood the whole thing about not wanting to tell people how old you are. What's that all about?! We are what we are and by not saying it, doesn't change it. But. 60 just brings up a whole new phase of life in my mind, and might whack me upside my head. Hope not!

WISH you all could meet my mom. She really is cute as a button and funny as all get out - with the perfect touch of evil to keep her interesting.

Pat? We would have made room for you on that bed too and you could have shared some of your wonderful stories that I love so much.

Julia & Liz - Hey there sweeties!!! - I'm leaving the fiction writing to you and the rest of the writers here - Morgan, Pat, Rob, Vicki, and Lesa's PERFECT reviews and write-ups. (did you all realize that Lesa is being picked up pretty regularly now by Reuters, USA, and some of the big newspapers?). These little essay things are easy for me. But sitting down and writing a plot! Dialogue! Its beyond me. Truly. Not being coy (Hey! I'm almost 60 - MUCH too old for the playing games thing!) 'cause I do not know how you guys do it. And my admiration for it knows no bounds.

Vicki - is it snowing in your part of the mountains?? I'll bet your farm is GORGEOUS!

Lesa - thank you. Sometimes, you know, those miles can be a blessing. And it does, maybe, help us appreciate our loved ones a little more than when we're in daily contact. But, the older we get, I think, the more important our families become to us.

Krill Press said...


Hasn't anyone ever told you that sixty can be sexy? If I wasn't married, and thought could ever get that darn Donald Barley out of your system, I would love to climb up on your bed and fluff up a few pillows with you on your 61st. Hehe.

Kent Lucas
Fifty Something Publisher

PS: Julia Buckley is right. You should think about writing a book. I mean, it's not like you don't know any publishers who think you are hot or anything. Hehe.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I KNEW this guy would show up . . .
He does do a lot for my ego, I must say.

Terri L. said...

Kaye, what a sweet story. Who in their right mind is going to believe you're 60. You are a beautiful silver fox.

Terri L.

Krill Press said...

Silver fox? More like a silver minx, I'd say. Hehe.

Kent "I want to sign Kaye Barley" Lucas
Krill Publishing

Lonnie Cruse said...


Turning sixty isn't too bad and what is even better is turning 62 so that Uncle Sam sends YOU money instead of the other way around. And 65 means some of us don't have to pay huge amounts for insurance that is worth squat (like mine was) becauses Medicare pays for things my private insurance wouldn't. Sigh. Have fun, lady, here's a hug!

Theresa de Valence said...

Kaye, your writing is delightful. I look forward to meeting you if you do make it to SF in 2010 (though perhaps earlier if I summon up the necessary ;-).
Theresa de Valence

Aubrey Hamilton said...


What a wonderful story and what a great weekend you had with your mother!

I have your big day marked on my calendar. I hope you've started celebrating already. Sometime I'll have to tell you about my college friend, who begins celebrating about two weeks before and quits when she wears her friends out a few weeks later.


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Terri. You ALWAYS say the sweetest things. thank you.

Kent/Kenneth. you're a tonic.

Lonnie - I have to tell you this and meant to sooner! YOU are the person I will always think of first when these biggie birthdays roll around. I always share your complete joy in taking money from Uncle Sam with everyone I know when they hit one of these important dates. See there - you're a roll model to me in many ways!

Theresa - Hey! I have my fingers crossed for San Francisco in 2010, and planning on bringing Donald with me. but maybe you'll get to Indianapolis for the 2009 convention?? Try, O.K.?!

Aubrey - I'll bet you celebrated with your friend every minute of every one of those days, didn't you?! I LIKE her attitude about birthdays, don't you? Come to Boone and help me celebrate, what say?

Robert Fate said...

Kaye - I agree with Julia. You have the goods, girl. Write that book. Warmest best wishes on your b'day - and remember, 60 ain't so bad. Just wait and see.
Bob Fate

Louise Ure said...

Happy Birthday Kaye.

Thanks to you and that image of mother/daughter/aunt in the bed, I'm making travel plans for Arizona right now. It's been too long.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Louise. Good for you!!!!! I LOVE this. And I'm awfully happy if this little piece is what gave you the nudge. Have fun, sweetie!

Awwww, Bob Fate. You make me all swoonie headed. Thank you - and I'll see you in Indianapolis!

(Y'all? I'm loving it that some of the men I have major Fan Girl crushes on are showing up here - this is huge fun!)

Wendy said...

I see you chickened out about telling how Miss Hazel thumps you and Donald at canasta, Kaye Alan. Probably just as well :)

Has she seen this yet??? Does she know she's famous today? Give her big hugs for me!

Love and hugs,

B.G. Ritts said...

Kaye! Lovely story about your family – and I'm looking forward to a birthday post on your blog too. ;-)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

BG! Hey! My traveling buddy, and fixer of pictures on said blog. Since I'm sooooo lazy with my blog, maybe - just maybe, Rob & Morgan will let me just cut and paste this one there. Girl - I just don't have anything much else to say, you know??
Wait. Did I really just say that???!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

HA! WendySis - you little devilette. She knows all about it, but she hasn't actually seen it - not on a computer. She thinks computers are actually Satan in a box. That comes from trying to take care of business over the phone and being told "I'm sorry, we can't help you right now because our computers are down." She doesn't much like hearing those words. Those or "You should . . . "
and I totally agree!
She is, indeed, a killer Canasta player, for real!

Unknown said...

Kaye, thanks for the heads-up on this post. You don't have to write fiction, you know. You have the wonderful ability to engage us in whatever you see or do. I echo the demands that you publish.
I loved this one; made me teary-eyed since my family's generations are so spread out that there isn't an older one for me anymore. Makes me happy to know so many people still share that real family love.
Happy B-day to your mom, and to you, in advance.
btw, younger son is headed to Asheville today for Forensics tournament. Can you do an un-snow dance to keep the roads clear? Robin

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thank you, Robin. You always say the nicest things, and you're just a joy. Come to Boone - we'll share my mom with you. Actually, she would love that. She was sort of the surrogate mom to a lot of my girlfriends when we were growing up, and she misses seeing them now. She would just swoop you right up.

Donald and I just drove home - roads are not too bad, so I think your son is going to be O.K. for traveling. Fingers crossed he doesn't have any problem - let me know, O.K.?

JT Ellison said...

Okay, I left a comment earlier and it hasn't posted - Kaye, I love this story. My mom lost a year when she was in her 50s, to her great delight, She'd always been a year older, and discovered she was wrong.

Love the story about your mom, sweetie, lovely, just like you.


Morgan Mandel said...

Kaye, it was nice having you hang out with us at Acme. Come back again some time.

Morgan Mandel

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye Darlin', I've said it before and I'll keep on saying it: You ARE a writer. A writer is someone who strings words together in such a way that people want to read them, and I don't know anyone who does that more charmingly and touchingly than you. So don't write a mystery if you don't want to. Just write about you and the people, places and things in your life. And pleasepleaseplease don't try to learn how to be a writer. You're a natural and that's something special. Give yourself a big birthday hug from me, and give your mom one, too.

Margot Justes said...

Welcome to Acme Authors.
What a great story.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Rob Walker said...

Kaye, dear, you have broken the record for visits to our lil blog here at ACME, so we got a lot of first time visitors thanks to you, so the thanks is from us at acme so it proves there was method in our madness to ask you out to play.
Again, great blog. Been a lot of fun.