It’s just a birthday…..another one. But as the saying goes, it’s better than the alternative. On January 20, 2020 I turned 61, and for some reason that sounds so much older than 60. Maybe because in the last couple months I’ve been feeling every bit my age. I’m weary to the bone from the potholes of life, and along comes a birthday to remind me that the clock is tick-tick-ticking on my personal journey. The amount of road left to travel is less than what’s behind me. How depressing.
Turning 60 did not particularly bother me. Neither did 50, 40, or 30. Big birthdays are fun! You tend to get nicely celebrated when there’s a zero in the number. Those decade birthdays make us take stock and set new goals. We evaluate the bucket list and make sure we are marking things off. We get excited about the possibilities of the next 10 years.
One of my favorite decade birthdays was the year I turned 40. My hubby and I are just a couple months apart in age so we decided to have a joint celebration by going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We wanted to see the parades and eat the food and drink the drinks. We wanted to party while we still had it in us. Our children were appalled. I can still remember the oldest, then 18, asking me if I really understood what took place during Mardi Gras, that I needed to watch MTV and get an idea of the behavior we would see. Like she was some wise old woman giving me a cautionary tale! Did my children really think I would flash my assets to perfect strangers?!
As it turned out, we WERE a bit naive as to the full extent of the Mardi Gras spectacle. We arrived the Friday night before Fat Tuesday. When our cab driver found out we were staying at a hotel in the French Quarter he refused to take us all the way there. He said it was impossible to get that close, so he dumped us and our luggage out about 10 blocks away. We looked like that old movie The Out-Of-Towners as we shlepped our suitcases through the revelry. Along comes a couple of police officers asking us what in the heck we were doing?! Didn’t we know we could get robbed blind?! They kindly, if not disgustly, escorted us to our hotel, where the door had to be unlocked as we squeezed through and quickly relocked behind us. We spent the next few days in a crush of highly inebriated people, the majority of which were just a bit younger than us. Yes, we watched the parades, and yes, we ate great food, and yes, we had a few celebratory drinks, but….I realized that maybe my major partying days were behind me.
I started this blog the year I turned 60 as a way to tell myself I still mattered, that I still had relevancy in this digital/social media world. I wanted my 60s to count for something. I may have been entering my “senior” years but I was going to come out fighting. And then 60 kicked my behind. Turning 61….yawn. It has no significance whatsoever beyond the fact that I survived 60. And, well, as it turns out that’s actually no small thing. The last year has thrown me for a loop. You know that sandwich generation thing I’ve talked a lot about…..it’s serious business. I keep wanting to shout, “WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME HOW HARD THIS IS?!?!” Why didn’t someone tell me that one day my mother wouldn’t remember my birthday? Ok, yes, maybe we’ve reached the heart of the matter. Maybe that’s the real reason that having a birthday just isn’t the fun it used to be. Somehow you are reduced to little significance when the woman who gave birth to you doesn’t remember your birthday. It’s not her fault. She doesn’t remember lots of things these days. And as I watch her and my daddy I worry, “Is that me in not too many more years? Will I forget my children’s birthdays?” It makes me sad beyond words.
But thank goodness for friends. And Facebook! They don’t forget us. And like any smart woman I’ll stretch out the celebration as long as possible. My sister-friends kicked it off when I was in Texas a couple weeks ago, and I’ll have lunch several times over the next week with dear friends here who love me. We had a fun dinner last night with two wonderful couples who kept me smiling. Of course, my hubby and children remembered, bless them. Why, I even got a birthday text from my orthodontist. (Hey, you take what you can get at this age.)
OK, so maybe 61 is looking a little brighter. Maybe I can avoid a few potholes this year and find a way to enjoy the journey. Maybe I’ve got a little mileage left in me. And guess what? My mother remembered very late last night, but I missed her call. That’s ok….at least she remembered.