OK– most people don’t mark this day on their calendar…
It’s not like you are supposed to prepare a special menu, buy someone a gift or attend a religious service. Nobody gives or gets candy. Nobody fire’s up the BBQ grill.
Although there are many theories as to why mankind has maligned the number 13, going back to Jesus and the last supper’s 13 diners, it is more likely a culmination of coincidences. In my life, it’s exactly that…a culmination of coincidences.
Here’s how it all started for me: I was born on the 13th of May. No it wasn’t a Friday. Mom went into labor on Mother’s day and I came into the world on a Monday morning. (Maybe that’s why I find it so hard to leap out of bed on Monday mornings.) I recall two Friday the 13th birthdays in my childhood and teens. Both parties were preempted by severe weather and tornado watches/warnings. I know, I know, it’s the Midwest in May— what do you expect!
But then it gets creepy. Pets start dying on the 13th or at thirteen years of age. I’ve had a lot of pets in my life although I do concede that none of them passed on a Friday. My parrot, Captain Coco, actually died on Easter Sunday when it was on April 13th. I walked into the dining room carrying a sweet potato casserole and there he was, feet facing up on the floor of his cage.
Then came “the big one”, the San Andreas Fault of superstition. My beloved father died on October 13th. Ironically, as a child I used to barter with him about changing my birthday to an unbirthday celebration on October 13th because the weather was more predictable that time of year. No, Dad’s death wasn’t on a Friday either. It was Columbus Day, a Monday. Nonetheless I was starting to get a little PSTD about the number “13” on the calendar, especially when it fell on a holiday.
Finally, Friday came through. It was a hot afternoon on July 13th, 2012. I was on my computer in the den and Mom was sitting on the sofa complaining of thirst. I walked into the kitchen to get her some water and heard a thud and a moan behind me. Mom had decided to follow me and apparently tripped on our Boston Terrier, Toby. She broke her hip and our lives have never been the same since.
For three and a half years, Mom has been in hospice at home in our living room. Now, coming up on the 13th of the month, Mom has abruptly been discharged from hospice care. (This is not because she doesn’t still need it but that’s a whole other blog post). So I’m starting to feel the stress set in as my birthday looms closer by the hour.
According to Stuart Vyse, professor of psycology at Connecticut College, “Most superstitions arise as a method of coping with uncertainty”. I totally get that. So now I’m trying to fight back by owning my superstition and identifying examples to disprove it. Maybe I can prevail over the Jinxism mentality. Maybe I can avoid noticing patterns in case anything does happen. Maybe I can actually learn to smile when I hear “Happy Friday the 13th!” instead of “Happy Birthday!”.