The Ties That Bind

by Belinda Munoz on July 12, 2010

birthday cake


I’m amazed by how strong old ties can be.

Decades fly by.  Memories upon memories pile up, are stored, then retrieved or forgotten over time.  Old ties get buried by distance.  Distance in the land or seas traveled, new people met, untrained feelings felt or denied, uncharted realities unfolding, demanding urgent attention.

Yet those old ties, seemingly forgotten, un-nurtured and devoid of face time, delight me in the way they sometimes spring back and get tugged at with the slightest provocation.



New souls are born or re-born.

New ties form, often through the sheer effort of making it through the next day.  Each new person with whom we create ties, one in billions of possibilities, is special and unique, whether random or deliberate, whether prized or neglected.

These new ties.  They have a way of turning into old ties.  Sneaky, sneaky.



Another year older.  Each year.  Clockwork.

A celebration of birth, in any year, is a sort of rebirth in its own way.  A thrust onward into a vast future of more ties — fledgling, strong, weak or broken — that help shape who we are.  And what better reason to strengthen old and new ties than birthdays.  Each birthday, one in an achingly finite number, is special and unique, whether celebrated or ignored.

A humbled but heartfelt birthday wish and a hopelessly inadequate thank you to the one and only woman without whom my old and new ties, whether blood or water, could never be made: my mother.


What are your thoughts on the ties that bind?
Have you ever rekindled forgotten ties and been surprised by how strong the bond still is?
Do you celebrate birthdays? Yours or those you care about?


Image by normanack

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July 12, 2010 at 10:44 am

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1 Tony Single July 12, 2010 at 6:44 am

I would like to wish your mother a happy birthday too, although I’m sure she’ll be like, “Who wished me a happy birthday? Why should he care about wishing a complete stranger a happy birthday?!” If nothing else, I make life a little more interesting for other people. :P

I don’t have that many close ties with people. Must be my B.O. Still, there are a couple of friends that I share a looo-ooong history with that I hardly ever get to see. I think I must literally stumble across them in public once every few years, and then we get to talking for an hour or two. As we say our goodbyes, we make promises to keep in touch a bit more religiously… but we never do. Ain’t that always the way?

I don’t really celebrate my birthday anymore. Cass prefers not to celebrate hers either. Nothing wrong with birthday celebrations; it’s just that we feel like we’re starting to get so old that we don’t want to be reminded that we’re one year closer to death! Yup, we’re a cheery pair, we are. ;)


2 Meg July 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

Kinda like Tony on birthdays–just celebrated mine with my husband, son and daughter-in-law, and my parents. It’s bittersweet. Glad to have all my family on the day, keenly aware it’s not gonna last much longer. I like to celebrate with some small indulgence: bought a small bit of really good chocolate and a bottle of wine.

Have very few ties to the past. I tend to burn bridges, as does my husband, though less than me. It’s an acceptance that everyone moves on as their lives, activities, and aging processes evolve. The experience of getting blank looks and no responses when old friends and acquaintances ask what I’m up to these days is unnerving. Somewhere along the line I have left such a fixed idea of who and what I am in the past that my current life (adapting to health and financial changes) just doesn’t compute with anyone. No, the present is much better.


3 Aging Mommy July 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

Happy birthday to your mother. I like to think that the friendships I have had for many years, through all sorts of changes in life remain simply because I love those people dearly and we both want to still be friends. Ties that bind – not for me, friendship is not an obligation, it is a born of mutual desire or else is not real friendship.


4 Justine July 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I’ve learned over the years that blood or water does not dictate the strength of the ties that bind. In fact, lately, with family so far away, I’ve met friends who are more like family to us. Ones that my own daughter calls auntie and uncle – and that just warms my heart. Otherwise she will never know what it’s like to belong to a community.

And happy birthday to your mom! :)

Mine is coming up soon and I realize that once the baby’s in the picture, I have no desire for fanfare on my birthday. The quieter the better – although spent with family, it could still be very special.


5 rob white July 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Hi Belinda,
Here is a quick tip about birthdays: When I hit 60 I began counting backwards each subsequent year. I am now 55 going on 54.

When we train our mind to believe in youth and vibrancy our outer world can’t help but show up that way.


6 Roman Soluk July 13, 2010 at 4:27 am

Hi Belinda! I love birthdays! I always celebrate my relatives’ and my birthdays and always think of them as of something unique, and they really are unique, every year each birthday.

Really great post! Thanks!


7 The Exception July 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

Birthday wishes to your mom!
This is an interesting reflection. I have rekindled old ties only to find that they are stronger and deeper than in the past due to passage of time and greater acceptance on all sides – maturity or growth or experience. I have also seen old ties attempted to be renewed only to find that there is a reason that they drifted away.

Birthdays are a wonderful celebration of life and yet, I do often wonder why choose one day to celebrate when life is something to celebrate everyday… but we do it all the same. I find it easier to celebrate the birthdays of others over my own. I will turn 40 this year and it is… what it is. While every birthday of my daughter’s is something I celebrate in little ways – she is such a gift.


8 Eva @ EvaEvolving July 13, 2010 at 8:51 am

This is a great post, Belinda – as always! I love thinking about “old ties.” I only see my cousins once or twice a year (sometimes less), but as soon as we’re together it’s like no time has passed. We’re talking loudly, laughing, reliving funny times from our childhood. It’s magical.


9 Sara July 13, 2010 at 10:43 am


What a lovely gift for your mom!!!

I have an old friend that I don’t see very often, but we do try to get together and celebrate our birthdays. It’s something special to touch base with her and the history we share. I agree with Eva that “it’s magical.”

I always celebrate birthdays. I have the whole thing…cake, ice cream, candles…well this is more difficult now that I am at an age where the candles might actually burn down the house:~) Seriously, I think everyone should celebrate the day of their birth and appreciate what we bring into this world!


10 Katie July 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I love birthdays and hate them too. I have an aversion to that kind of focused cake and song attention, but I love the quieter times of knowing it’s my day. Lovely post for your mom, Belinda.


11 Giulietta July 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Hi Belinda,

It’s kismet that you wrote this. Just recently I’ve re-found some dear friends I went to camp with back in the 70’s! We’ve talked and will be getting together. It’s as if no time has passed. Once a friend, almost always a friend.

I wish your mom a happy birthday! They can be wonderful days for some folks and difficult days for others. It depends how loved you feel in your life.

Thanks. Giulietta


12 Rudri July 14, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Happy Belated Birthday to your Mom. I love celebrating my birthday, but my husband is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He thinks birthdays are just another day. Makes it fun enjoying quiet birthdays and loud ones too.


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