Friday, March 16, 2018

The Big Six Oh

My birthdays have come and gone for decades. Precisely six, to be exact. They have been mostly pleasant, worry-free occasions. Different ages brought different traditions. In New York State, March 11th fell smack in the middle of mud season, so sometimes my mother and I would take a bus into New York City to the Flower Show. I went through a stage where I loved eating spareribs, and my neighbor, Elizabeth, and I would have sparerib eating contests, piling up the bones on our plates. One year in Middle School my friends gave me a surprise party. I was so surprised! I still remember the dress I was wearing.

My card from Trish

When the kids were little they would get very excited about birthdays, and mine was no exception. The drawings, cards and gifts from them were so precious. They still are. I was always sanguine about my advancing age, no matter what decade. There was a benefit to the aging; I had learned something, I was stronger. Life seemed to be as it was meant to be. I didn't really question it too much.

I must admit I have struggled with the prelude to turning 60. I've always believed, and often stated, that life is one long series of identity crises. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. I think I have age dissonance. My literal age is at odds with my interior life and my vision of myself.

I am very grateful for my good health. The adage that every day above ground is a good day makes sense to me, although I'm never going to go under the ground. I plan to be cremated and have my ashes scattered. You heard it here, folks. I have learned the hard way that afterlife choices must be written down. Don't leave it to your survivors to make choices for you.

I have a lot of associations with sixty-somethings. White hair, retirement, social security, Medicare, senior discounts, forgetfulness, going to bed early. Oops. I've just described my husband! He's seven years older. Nothing personal, but I look at him and think there's no way I'm going to be like that in seven years! All this talk of "sixty is the new forty" is the baby boomer way of trying to remain pioneers. Who are we kidding? We're not invincible. Two of my former flames have already died.

It's not the number sixty that bothers me, per se. It's more that you add fifteen years and all of a sudden you're seventy-five years old. Boom. I play tennis with quite a few lovely women that age and they are an inspiration. They're in great shape, and because they're retired they have time to work hard on their fitness. No offense, ladies, but I'd still rather go back fifteen years to forty-five. I don't think I appreciated it enough at the time, but now it seems so cute and young! I'm sure when I'm looking back at sixty I'll feel the same way.

Now that the birthday has come and gone I've gotten my mind right on the subject. I was dragged into this decade with lots of love and care. Friends and family from near and far sent me good wishes. I had a very special spa day with my three girls. Eric made a paella dinner for all of us. 

Love this card made by Pam J. Especially my new photoshopped body!

At the end of the evening my daughter, Lana, said something that really gave me perspective. She pointed to my granddaughters who are 16 and 19 months. She said, "Mom, in fifteen years Lila and Sally will be sixteen years old." I thought about that for a moment. They will be in high school, going to prom, driving or whatever 16 year olds will be doing then. I thought about all the changes they will go through and the life they will live between now and then. It really does seem like a long time.

My mom and aunt are 84 and 88 years old. I come from hearty stock. If it weren't for the damn cigarettes I'm sure my father would still be alive. It's going to be all right. Like we used to say to the kindergarteners: "You get what you get and you don't get upset." These are the good, old days. 

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was if you were 45, you would have to give up your granddaughters! Happy Birthday - you’re still a spring chicken to me.