Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
- Muhammad Ali

I had a birthday this week.  It wasn't one of those 'special' birthdays.  It was just another birthday.  I can't believe I just said that because I don't believe any birthday is "just another birthday."  I get excited about birthdays and even at 54 years old I get excited about what might happen this year.  Not that every birthday has been spectacular.  Far from it, some of my special days have been just another day.  A few people recognized the day, but for the most part, they were the same as any other.

I decided long ago that if I expected my birthday to be a special day, I was responsible to make it that way.  So here's what I do:  beginning in April, when my cousin celebrates her birthday, I start reminding people of other birthdays.  There are four of us on my dad's side of the family who have birthdays in consecutive months, who are all the same age.  So when T has her birthday, I remind everyone that L has one coming up the next month, K has one the next month, and then I have one the next.  That's all I say about it until L's birthday.  Then I remind everyone again. 

By the time we get to K's birthday, roughly a month before mine, I start reminding anyone close to me that I have a special day coming up.  I don't expect gifts or even cards, although they are nice.  I just don't want to go through the day without a few "Happy Birthdays!" 

A few years ago, my son decided to be the first one to wish me a happy birthday so he wakes me up sometime after midnight to extend his wish.  Personally, I could wait a little while longer, at least 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., but I'm not complaining because he always remembers.  In fact, when I begin reminding him, I am always reassured that he "could never forget.  How could I?"

This year was an exceptionally good day!  So many friends and family sent cards and gifts, called, and stopped by to extend their well-wishes.  Some friends from out of town, stopped through and took me to dinner.  Another new friend, took me to dinner (I've probably added 15 pounds this birthday) and we had a lovely evening of friendship and fun.  A group of vacation Bible school volunteers surprised me with flowers, a cake and balloons along with lunch on my day.  And then I came home to many, many birthday wishes on the internet.  My son came home and spent time with me by going to a movie.

I know that I am a very lucky person to have so many people remember me, but the especially nice thing is that they don't wait from year to year to do this.  I am especially blessed to have people in my life who affirm me and who I am quite frequently.  I know that not everyone can say that, and I thank God every day for all of them!

Yes, I am now officially another year older.  Honestly, most days I don't feel any older than I did when I was twenty-four.  The thing that I see now, is that at fifty-four I understand so much more than I did then.  I thought I had a pretty good understanding when I was younger.  What young person doesn't think they see things perfectly clearly?  But what I really get now, is that it is not possible to really understand things at the younger ages.  We just haven't had the life experiences to be able to see things in all of their colors.  It's time that opens the spectrum to all the various shades of the rainbow.  Just as I now understand that what I see today, at 54, is not what I will see when I am 74 or 94 (or 104, as I tell my son I intend to live that long).  That extra time will, again, open new shades of colors that only time can.

I am so grateful that I have reached this age.  Many of friends did not and I still mourn the loss of them.  I used to think that 54 was pretty darned old, but I understand now that, like fine wine that has been allowed to sit and age to perfection, I'm just getting better with each passing year.  My body may not be as easy to manage as it was in my twenties (I'll have more trouble dropping my new pounds), but I have very few problems and my mind is still sound--as sound as it can be with a nineteen year old around.  

I love all the colors of this rainbow of my life.  I wouldn't change any one of them for each one represents something that has made me exactly who I am today.  I am able to accept them all, even the uglier ones, because I now understand that it takes all of them to make that rainbow.  Some are beautiful, some not so much, but all are me.  And I kind of like that.   

So another birthday has come and gone;  more life lessons learned, more fun had, more friendships made, more love found.  Everyone can rest assured that I won't be making any references to my day for a while.  I'll wait until January or so.  That's my six-month birthday.  Thanks again, All!

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