I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding the writing of this week’s blog entry all day. I know I don’t HAVE to write an article each weekend, but I have come to like the discipline of it, and so it has become a goal. Usually I have an idea by Thursday, certainly by Friday, and even if I don’t know exactly what will show up on the page when I sit down at the keyboard, I have enough of an idea to get started. But not this weekend. This weekend I’ve hemmed and hawed, graded student projects and moaned to my husband that I had no great thoughts this week.
It’s a lie. And I don’t do that as a rule, so I guess I have to pay attention.
My birthday is this week, and it will be the big six-oh. And I need to write about it because I’m not at all sure what I think. I’m not dreading it — by now the feeling of “been there, done that” makes one more birthday, well, just that. One more birthday in a long line of others. Hmmm — others. Bear with me while I look back at some of those. I do remember many of them, but I promise I won’t make this article equal to watching your neighbor’s vacation slide show. Maybe just one or two memorable birthdays won’t hurt. Maybe this will give you, dear readers, a chance to think of your own most memorable birthdays.
First, my thirteenth. That would be November 24, 1963. It was a tough week to have a birthday: my grandfather had died on the 21st, and President Kennedy was assassinated on the 22nd. I was so awfully sad that the day I entered my teens was also the day of my beloved Grampy’s funeral, and JFK’s funeral followed a day after that. A moment so important in our country’s history was also a moment that was terribly important to me. I will always hold that day in my heart.
Next, my sixteenth. Ahh, some of my friends will laugh that I still count this one as a favorite.One of my close friends and I had discovered that we were born on exactly the same day, and so I expected a surprise party. I even told my mom that I might be home late from my date that night and she said that would be OK. Was I ever mad when my date drove me right home after the movie! Little did I know that the “surprise” party was at my house. I have no idea how my birthday twin got there or whether she too was fooled — but it was an amazing surprise after all, and I remember it well. My mother deserved an award for her acting; she had even put on her pajamas before I went out!
The only milestone birthday that I had trouble with was the twenty-fifth. I remember thinking I was getting old enough to measure my life in terms of a century: a quarter of a century had passed. Did I think my life was over? I’m not sure. Later, when I reached the half-century mark, it was not difficult at all. I had decided that I would like to live to be a hundred — I am still sure it will take me that long to do all that I want to do — and therefore, I figured, at fifty my life is only half over.
I have no words of wisdom on these days leading up to the beginning of my next decade, but it is making my brain spin. As an educator I have taken courses on human development, and I know a fair amount about the aging process, so I’m not surprised that my thoughts lean toward my own mortality — there’s no denying that I’m past the halfway mark now — and some days I have a little trouble with memory and word recall. I don’t think I look my age, and my hairdresser is not the only one who knows that she gets a lot of the credit for that. A couple of years ago I lost a lot of weight, and have kept it off, so I feel pretty good most of the time.
I have no compaints, really. It has been a wonderful ride so far. Back when I was a dramatic adolescent, I remember thinking that since I would only have one life to live, I would make it worthwhile. I decided then that when I reach the end of my personal timeline, I wouldn’t want to regret things. I’m glad I figured that out when I was still young enough to be able to steer the course. There are a few things I definitely wish had turned out differently, but there’s nothing that I truly regret.
And so I am ready to surge forward, going to bed earlier than I used to, but still energetic enough to feel the excitement of life. I have been blessed with an amazing family, true friends, and the career of my dreams. My life shall change in June when I retire, but I don’t plan on not working. My work is play, for the most part, because it fulfills me and I learn something new often. It doesn’t get any better than that. Bring it on, six-oh! I’m ready!