Happy 22nd birthday, Mom!

I’m 50, and my mother turns 22 today. Hey, is this some kind of joke? Here’s a hint: her last big birthday bash was Feb. 29, 2004, when she turned 21. Finally, Mom could order a margarita at the bar, although she still can’t rent a car on her own until 2020.

Mom, aka Kitty Daniel, is a Leap Year baby. Most of us think Leap Year comes every four years, but is anything ever that simple? Here’s the formula: A leap year is any year that is divisible by 4, but not divisible by 100, except when the year is divisible by 400. (My non-mathematical brain is spinning.) So 1600 and 2000 are leap years, but 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2100 are not.

Mom faux-blowing out her birthday candles; CLICK TO ENLARGEOf course we celebrate Mom’s birthday every year, on Feb. 28, but her “real” birthday has always been a bit more festive. In 2004, we threw her a grand 21st birthday bash. Here you can see her faux-blowing out her birthday candles. She’s on oxygen, so we didn’t think it was a great idea to light the candles or it would have been a true birthday blast.

Mom with her roommate Callie, her Maine Coon cat; CLICK TO ENLARGEUnfortunately, I’m with her only in spirit this year, but I’ll be down to see her in Seminole, Florida, in a few weeks. She lives at The Vineyard Inn, which sounds like a swank B&B, but is actually a wonderful (non-corporate!) assisted-living facility. Her roommate is Callie, her Maine Coon cat, and sometimes she’s treated to visits by her granddog, Roxy the Doxy.

Unfortunately, Mom won’t be able to join the hundreds (thousands?) of Leapers who will gather this weekend in Anthony, Texas/New Mexico, the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the World. Since 1988, the town has grabbed its 15 minutes of fame by sponsoring the Worldwide Leap Year Festival and Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club, a clever act initiated by the Chamber of Commerce. Partiers celebrate with a parade, hot-air-balloon rides, a carnival, and a gathering of people born on Feb. 29.

Today, Google has gotten in on the act with one of its always-creative special graphics on its homepage. The Internet in general has given Leaplings a place to gather online. So party on, youngsters!

And Happy 22nd/88th birthday, Mom! Or, as Wessel would say, Van Harte Gefeliciteerd!

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