A birthday toast for Byrne

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Today would have been Byrne Miller’s 101st birthday, and I’m celebrating by sharing a photograph from a birthday party long ago in Mexico.  My thanks to another sister-by-Byrne, Pam Susen, who found this image in a box of slides.  Byrne’s own handwriting is on the label – but all it says is Chihuahua, November 3rd.  Dates never did matter to Byrne – she lived to be almost 92 and had no qualms about getting older.  She never called it “aging,” but “advancing.”  As in – the day I met her, she helped me carry my heavy television lights onto her porch to interview Duncan.  In the book I quote her as telling me, “I am not as feeble as my advanced age implies.”

She appreciated every year she got to spend on earth – even the tough ones, after Duncan was gone.  I love this photograph for the exuberance it catches – she’s thrilled that friends went to the effort, on the road, to surprise her.

So tonight, on the porch where we shared many a slice of cake and glass of wine, I invite my brothers and sisters-by-Byrne to raise a glass again at sunset.  To the woman who still makes us beam.  Happy Birthday Byrne!

5 thoughts on “A birthday toast for Byrne

    Barbara Kelly said:
    November 3, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    Tonight of all nights, knowing Art will once again be under siege, we don’t need an excuse to raise a glass to honor an artist and enduring free spirit.

    Thank you, Theresa – for sharing her with those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to have known her other than through your words.


    Will said:
    November 3, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    I’m powerfully saddened, too, today. Byrne’s continuing advancement – even in absentia – is certainly worthy of a raised glass, a grateful acknowledgment of her spirit, and a moment’s pause to consider the tumultuous events of the last few days. How would Byrne direct our energies toward uplift? You know she would. Barbara’s right – Thanks, T., for bringing Byrne back to our lives.


    Annie Griffey said:
    November 3, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    In honor of Byrne this week I am teaching my students the poem Jabberwocky which was the source of one of her dances. I pointed to her photo which is on my classroom wall and talked of her importance in my life and the importance of memorizing poetry. Always in my heart.


      teresabrucebooks said:
      November 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM

      Yay! She would love that. How wonderful that all of us found a way to say Happy Birthday. Mary Wiz gave us a call, saying she was drinking a wine that suited Byrne to a T – leggy, and with a bite!


    benjamin barney said:
    November 5, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    I never talked with Byrne on her age or birth. She was only a wonderful and great dance teacher to me. She also showed me the stews which could be made from nothing and how each stew could serve a lot of people; all the dancers in the studio and more. It was wonderful to know her in those years she was in Santa Fe, NM and the times I visited her in Beafout.


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