Every birthday is a milestone: 6 birthday stories from Charlotteans

Mary Mahoney (right) and her sister, April Jensen (left) make sure a 1-year-old Ashley Mahoney doesn’t grab the candle. Photo courtesy the Mahoney family

Everyone has an opinion on birthdays: some people love them, others avoid them and for some, they’re just another day.

What’s happening: We had a couple of June birthdays in the office recently. Axios’ Laura Barrero celebrated hers on June 10 by going to PARA and I celebrated mine on June 12.

  • My 30th birthday present isn’t a trip abroad. We’re buying a home instead.

Birthdays have come with mixed emotions for me over the last five years, but this one, a milestone birthday feels like a gut punch some days. I think about the Turkey Hill Colombian coffee ice cream cake mom would make, with an Oreo cookie crust. She would skip the icing at my request and cover it in rainbow sprinkles, which is no small feat without icing. Remembering this sometimes brings me to tears, with a lump in my throat so big I can hardly breathe.

  • I’ve spent four of the last five years since she died in grief counseling and therapy.
  • The waves of grief are more spaced out, but the pain hasn’t dulled one bit, and it was razor-sharp as my 30th approached, and she’s not here.

Mom loved birthdays, and rice pudding instead of cake to celebrate. She would be 70 next month, and I promised to live it up for both of us.

  • Her final birthday was spent in a hospice facility in South Charlotte. It was the same day Major League Soccer executives were in town for Charlotte’s bid for a team, which I covered. I hated soccer that day.

The bottom line: A birthday isn’t just another day. It’s a day to do whatever your heart desires. It should be filled with kindness, love, delicious food, and laughter. There should be candles to blow out and presents, big or small. Every birthday deserves celebration because we don’t know how many more we’ll have.

With that in mind, I asked our readers how they celebrate milestone birthdays and what they consider a milestone. Here’s what they had to say.

Skydiving with dad

Are you familiar with comedian Patton Oswalt? He has a great bit on birthdays from his 2007 album “Werewolves and Lollipops.” [Oswalt saying you’re wasting cake and paper celebrating your 37th birthday made me laugh out loud.]
  • The year I turned 30 I got a Groupon to go skydiving with my father and had a blast.
  • I normally go on a hike sometime around my birthday each summer, but generally agree with Patton’s take.
  • My wife and I both turn 40 over the next 15 months, so we are planning a trip abroad somewhere neither of us has visited yet. Hopefully, the pandemic will allow that to be possible. 


The best year of my life

On my 60th birthday, 3 years ago, I spent the entire year-plus spending one-on-one with more than 60 different women friends/family.

  • They were charged with planning an outing that they were passionate about. It was the best year of my life.
  • Peter St. Onge of the Charlotte Observer even did an article about the project. 
  • So yes, I think all birthdays, especially the milestone ones, should be celebrated. 


Get out of town

Milestone birthday … turning 40 this year and have three friends and my sister joining me on a trip to South Africa. 

  • [It’s] the last continent I need to check off aside from Antarctica! 


A beer with the Loch Ness monster

50 is definitely a milestone year. Thankfully mine was a couple years before COVID.

  • I’ve known since I was in my 30s what I would be doing. I sat on the shore of Loch Ness and had a beer. 


Celebrate them all

Absolutely celebrate EVERY birthday especially milestone ones (30-100!!)  I turn the major one at least for me on Friday 60! S I X T Y!!

  • I can hardly believe it myself, but l am grateful considering everything that’s been going on in the world for the past 2 years and now.


New milestones

Why stop at the decades for milestone birthdays? My husband and I have always celebrated the 5s as well with a trip of some sort.

  • Some years it’s a beach or mountain weekend, some years will be bigger (like this summer: Australia) depending on our financial situation and calendar.
  • Life is short. Celebrate!


Keeping the tradition alive with Colombian coffee ice cream and rainbow sprinkles. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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