Thoughts on birthdays

October 22, 2014

Today is my birthday. And though it’s been quiet, it’s been fun. I’ve gotten tons of birthday wishes through email, facebook, twitter and text message. A friend brought me my favorite caramel frap with extra caramel and a chocolate croissant. And two other friends gave me some kindle books.
Hmmm, wonder how to get jaws to pronounce the word “croissant” correctly? Meaning of course, the correct French pronunciation. Tired of hearing it say, crussant. Humph! Speaking of French, I almost reverted to the way I used to write dates. For years after studying French in high school, I wrote dates the European way, 22 October 2014. But I reverted back some time ago.
Oops, I digress. Sorry.
So, back to my birthday. I heard from family members I haven’t seen or heard from in maybe thirty years. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not much. I worked today, so no special plans, and I don’t have a bottle of wine around to have a toast to me.
But here’s the thing, I love my birthday! I mean, why not? It’s the one day a year that is all me, me, me! And what’s the alternative? Not being born? Humph again. Where would the world be without me? Well, it wouldn’t know it was missing me I guess. But seriously, birthdays are a time to rejoice in being alive! So, I love them, mine and everyone else’s. Happy birthday to all the October 22 birthdays out there.
But this is a weird birthday for me. And this is really what I want to write about. Today, I turned fifty-seven. I am now the age my dad was when he died. He was actually about fifty-seven and a half, but who’s counting? The point is that he was fifty-seven when he died following a long agonizing struggle with cancer, and now, I am fifty-seven. I’m not expecting to become instantly sick and die, but I do expect to pass the age of my dad’s life span. And that’s just weird, and unsettling and kinda sad. And a little tiny bit freaky scary.
Odds always were that I would outlive my father. Most kids do outlive their parents after all. I never thought though, in those long ago years when I was young and thought my dad at thirty and then forty was quite old. I was born when he was eighteen, so when you think about it, there wasn’t a huge age difference, but when you’re eight or eighteen, thirty and forty seem really old! Once I was thirty, I knew how really young thirty and forty were.
When dad died, I raged inside, that we had so few years with him. Fifty-seven, I shrieked in my soul! He should have lived till seventy-seven, or eighty-seven or more. Then reaching his age wouldn’t be weird and freaky. But really, fifty-seven?
So, now I ponder, as I have pondered the past few months, approaching this oh so significant and momentous birthday. How am I here? How did I make it to fifty-seven? Will I make it past fifty-seven? Have I accomplished anything in these fifty-seven years? What legacy will I leave behind me? I have no children to mourn or carry on something of me. What of me will be left?
I honestly don’t think like that often. It’s morbid and I don’t tend to think that way. Life is to be lived, to be experienced, a great thing for which I am deeply grateful. But reaching this age, I feel unsettled and strange. It just doesn’t seem right somehow, and I can’t articulate my thoughts very well. I guess when I pass my own fifty-seven and a half, it won’t feel so weird. Or maybe it will. Who knows? I suppose it may be something anyone would consider when reaching the same age as someone beloved who died too young.
Even with all the weird introspection today, I’m glad it’s my birthday. It’s another year I’m alive! My birthday is the day I tend to look back at the year behind, my own personal New Year’s Day, if you will. I like to see what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, what I haven’t done, and how I can make the next year better. It’s the time I make my own resolutions, so that when the next birthday comes, I can see what I’ve done or not done. And it has been pretty good. I’ve maintained my home ownership. I trained with a new guide dog. I kept my job! I lost my sweet Bianca, the one truly sad point in this year. I’ve strengthened my friendships. I’ve found more peace in myself. So, yeah, maybe nothing outrageously exciting or outstanding, but contentment is a good thing to have. I’ll take it.
Oh, the resolutions? I don’t know yet. And I never share them. Usually, they’re just about making the next year even slightly better than the year before.
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. I am getting older, but I also am getting better! Yah Hoooooooo! Bring on another year!