This particular birthday holds a special meaning for me because of a special package I received

Sunday was my birthday. I turned the big 41. Not as impressive a birthday as 40, I know, but any birthday you can wake up on is a big deal.

This particular birthday holds a special meaning for me because of a special package I received. It wasn't supposed to be a birthday present, but it arrived the day before, and became one.

Last year, Hospice made me a Memory Bear in honor of my father, who passed away in August 2010 of colon cancer. He spent the last three months of his life in Hospice care and they did everything in their power to keep him as comfortable as possible his last days and allowed him to pass away in the comfort of his own home. In short, they were awesome. They provided support for my brother, who was dad's primary caregiver, and also provided dad with some social interaction when he came to the point of no longer being able to leave his house. Dad was a very outgoing and social person and being confined to the house with only my brother to talk to took its toll on him. The visits from nurses and nurses' aides helped alleviate some of his boredom and allowed him to partake of his favorite pastime, talking to people.

I loved the bear they gave me. It was like having a small piece of my dad still here physically with me. But I regretted not having one of mom. Mom spent her last four weeks of life in the hospital and was never part of hospice.

My brother, knowing that I would love a mama memory bear, talked to one of our aunts, who agreed to make me a bear if I could send her photos of dad's memory bear. I did one better, I found a pattern and sent it off with one of mom's favorite housecoats and some buttons I found in her sewing box.

Saturday, I got back the finished bear and it was more than I could have hoped for. Mama memory bear is beautiful and the little vest my aunt added looks like one of the housecoats mom wore all the time. I will treasure both my bears, both have special places in my heart given to me out of love and kindness and I will be grateful to their creators forever.

September is not only special to me because it is my birth month and the beginning of the fall season (my favorite time of year), it is also the birth month of a very special young lady. Tomorrow, my beautiful stepdaughter will turn 15 years old. This special girl has been a part of my life for the last 5 years and I am truly grateful to have gotten to know her over the years. Though she lives several states away, she is in my thoughts all the time. Happy birthday!