This is my grandmother. Lance took this photo when we visited in August, and she celebrated her 96th birthday on Labor Day.
Although she has marked this occasion nearly a hundred times, she can quickly name her favorite birthday gift of all: her first grandchild.
That would be me.
I was born on my grandmother's 48th birthday. On Sept. 1, I turned 48 myself. So I considered this birthday extra special.
My grandmother has told me many times the story of how she got on a bus the morning of her birthday to travel to Nashville to meet me. She describes standing at my father's side as they peered at his pride and joy, his first-born daughter, just a few hours old. She loves to recount how she patted her son on the arm and reassured him, in that grandmotherly way, "don't worry, honey, she'll look better in a few days."
(I might be offended at that story if I hadn't seen the pictures. Thankfully, she was right.)
My grandmother was born before women had the right to vote and lived for decades in a segregated South. Now she's witnessing an election that will give us either the first female vice president or the first African-American president. The scientific and technological achievements of her lifetime are mind-boggling. And perhaps the societal changes are best marked by noting that while she celebrated her 48th birthday by becoming a grandmother, I marked mine by snuggling on the couch with my 2 1/2-year-old daughter to watch an episode of "Dora the Explorer."
Yes, things have changed.
But no matter how dizzyingly fast the changes come, one thing is constant: I share a birthday with a smart, resourceful, opinionated, funny, sometimes stubborn and amazing woman that I love and admire very much. And that will always be my favorite birthday gift.